HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced on Monday the formation of a strike team in the county that would administer tests to areas at high risk for coronavirus spread.
Hidalgo said getting more people tested in the county has been a key component in helping combat the coronavirus crisis. Some of the hardest-hit places are those where people cannot easily socially distance, like nursing homes and shelters, so Hidalgo’s goal is to help get more wide-spread testing for those areas and expand to the rest of the county.
During the news conference, Hidalgo made two announcements that will help increase testing in the community:
COVID-19 testing strike team
According to Hildalgo, this team will be comprised of epidemiologists, clinicians, social workers, public health experts and testing staff, who will be in charge of deploying tests to areas at high risk for coronavirus spread.
The team will have the ability to administer tests to residents and employees or facilities like nursing homes, homeless shelters, shelters for domestic violence survivors and more to ensure people who may not be able to go and get tested, can be tested.
Hidalgo said the team will work with facilities to conduct a site assessment to see where help is needed. The team will also issue control orders if necessary.
The outreach process is expected to begin Tuesday with one nursing home a day. The nursing homes with positive cases will be prioritized, Hidalgo said. The plan is to expand as resources allow, Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said the goal is to save lives and work proactively to isolate areas where the virus could spread. This will only be for Harris County outside of city limits.
New mobile testing sites
According to Hidalgo, the county also doubled the number of pop-up testing locations from two to four. That makes a total of six sites for Harris County: four mobile and two fixed locations in Katy and Baytown.
The two new mobile sites will be at Tomball and southeast Houston on Monday and Wednesday and on Thursday through Saturday in southwest Houston and Crosby, Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said the goal with the new testing sites is to make it easier for people to be tested. Her hope is that with the mobile sites, more people will be able to be tested at a site closer to them if they cannot drive out to either fixed location. Hidalgo said there will also be the ability to take tests to people who cannot leave their homes.
Readyharris.org will have a map where people will be able to see the locations of the mobile sites, Hidalgo said. People can also visit that site for more information and to get screened to get tested. People can also call 832-927-7575 to schedule an appointment.
Watch the full news conference below:
WATCH LIVE: Houston-area officials share update on expected developments in testing as coronavirus pandemic continues. LATEST INFO: https://www.click2houston.com/topic/coronavirus/Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, April 27, 2020