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Private coronavirus testing expands while local and county officials struggle to get test kits

HOUSTON – Private testing coronavirus is expanding through private sources while the city of Houston and Harris County struggle to get enough tests for the public.

This week, Harris County feared it would have to shut down coronavirus testing as the inventory delivery was in question.

While the tests arrived and testing continued, there was still not only enough test for a few more days, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Health Department said.

”We knew there was a shortage of test kits in the very beginning, and now the federal government is pushing those kits down to us, so we continue to do the testing,” said Mark Sloan from the Harris County Office of Emergency Management.

The city of Houston is also a limited number of testing kits.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he would like to open a second location, but need more inventory.

”Because of the limited supplies and the delay of getting those supplies, that’s been the limiting factor in setting up all the testing sites,” Turner said.

The federal government provides the coronavirus test and the personal protective equipment to Houston and Harris County while other cities and counties in America are competing for the same kits.

United Memorial Medical Center is paying top dollar to get coronavirus tests from anywhere they can.

“Mississippi, Oklahoma...independent clinics which are just sitting on the kits,” said UMMC President Syed Mohiuddin.

Tests are coming in from as far away as Europe.

The ample supply of tests allows UMMC the ability to test 350-500 people a day. UMMC is planning on opening a second testing site in Sugar Land next week. Meanwhile, Harris County can evaluate 250 people a day at each of its two locations.

”I have 15 people, who just are going around the country buying stock and bringing to us,” said Mohiuddin.

UMMC is waiting for a rapid test to arrive that can give results within 30 minutes. The hospital said it should be ready for use in about 10 days.