Shortage of protection equipment could bring coronavirus testing to temporary halt in Houston

HOUSTON – A shortage of personal protective equipment in Houston could bring coronavirus testing to a halt until a new shipment is received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday that officials are reluctant to open a second drive-thru testing site until the supply chain of PPE from the federal government is more reliable.

Dr. David Persse, of the Houston Health Department, said the current city testing site can process about 250 tests per day, and they have been averaging about 225 tests per day since the site opened last week.

“We’re looking good for today,” Persse said. “By opening a second site, we’re concerned that would dilute our resources.”

Persse said people have been donating things like masks and gowns to ease the shortage.

“That has helped us bridge the gap between what FEMA has supplied and kept us going,” Persse said.

Both Turner and Persse said two testing sites are open in the county, and the city plans to open a second when the supplies become available.

“Once the supply chain issue from FEMA gets squared away and it’s more reliable, we’ll then consider going to our second site,” Persse said.

People must be prescreened before going to a testing site. Walk-ups are not allowed.

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