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Rice University study reveals symptomatic Houstonians are not getting tested for COVID-19

Results Also Show Disparate Effects Based On Race

HOUSTON – A new survey from Rice University is digging beneath the surface with details on how Houstonians are dealing with the coronavirus.

About 4,000 people in the city were surveyed and some of the results were eye-popping. One of the biggest surprises was the gap between those who had COVID-19 symptoms in the past 2.5 weeks and those who actually got tested, said Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda.

“Amongst the people who are exhibiting symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 not nearly as many of them are getting tested as we would hope,” Miranda said.

For instance, 1095 people surveyed said they had experienced a fever. Of that group, only 115 of them got tested. Another 127 said they tried to get tested but were unsuccessful and the rest of the group — 853 people — simply didn’t try.

One of the most surprising revelations involves stress specifically when it comes to healthcare workers. Approximately 23% of the respondents said they have been exhibiting moderate to severe anxiety. Of that group, 22% were first responders or healthcare workers — meaning those taking care of us are experiencing the same levels of stress.

“They are on the frontlines battling this difficult disease,” said Miranda. “At the same, we need to be aware that it takes a toll on them and we as a community really need to wrap our love, and our prayers, and our support around them.”

The survey also shows how coronavirus has impacted Houstonians economically. There are shared losses as well as disparities.

Data revealed 42% of all households surveyed have lost income. But broken down by race, he number of households having difficulty paying bills is:

  • 24% for black households
  • 18% Hispanic households
  • 8% of non-Hispanic white households

There was some encouraging news to report from the survey. Initial results found that the overwhelming majority of residents are engaging in behavior such as social distancing and washing their hands frequently in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Rice researchers say they will conduct follow-up surveys every two weeks.


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