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HHS personnel will leave Houston by end of the week, mayor says

Healthcare professionals prepare to begin testing at a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Houston. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Healthcare professionals prepare to begin testing at a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Houston. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – When asked at a news briefing Sunday if the City of Houston had the resources to open an additional testing site, Mayor Sylvester Turner bluntly stated it did not, and added that federal health personnel with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would withdraw from the city by the end of the week.

"They are going to be redirected someplace else outside of the state of Texas, "Turner said. "So, we’re going to have to pick up the greater load here.”

Currently, there are three HHS employees stationed at each of the city’s COVID-19 testing sites. On Friday April 10, these health workers will leave Houston for assignments elsewhere outside of Texas, Turner said.

“We're looking at how we can be a little bit more robust as far as testing."

The news came amid a rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the city.

On Saturday, Houston reported its ninth coronavirus-related death and announced 103 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the city’s total number of cases to 690.

Donning a mask, Turned advised Houstonians to wear “face coverings" and continue to practice social distancing.

“That will help regardless of whether testing increases or not,” Turner said.

More coronavirus coverage

SPECIAL COVERAGE: See our special section dedicated to all of our coronavirus coverage

LOCAL: See all the latest local coronavirus updates in our blog

CHART: This chart tracks the number of Houston-area coronavirus cases each day since March 15

TOTAL CASES: Keep track as new coronavirus cases are reported in counties the Houston area

TEXAS MAPPED: An interactive map of cases by county across Texas

THE WORLD: See a Johns Hopkins interactive map that shows how coronavirus has spread through the world


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