As COVID-19 cases climb, city and county leaders seek to increase testing sites

New Sites Open This Week

HOUSTON – Houston and surrounding counties are moving to increase testing capacity as the COVID-19 infection rate continues to climb.

On Monday, Fort Bend County opened its fifth COVID-19 testing site at 9 a.m. at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Rosenberg. Within an hour, the free testing site had reached its 100 clients daily capacity.

“I’ve been watching the news lately and since they opened up the state like they did the numbers have skyrocketed, so I’m trying to protect myself,” said one man waiting to be tested.

Health workers say more and more people are asking for tests as local hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients.

The city of Houston’s two, free, drive-through test sites at Butler and Delmar stadiums can perform a combined 1,000 tests daily.

On Monday, Mayor Turners said the city will expand capacity at both sites immediately.

“Starting tomorrow, we will be increasing the testing capability capacity at both sites, Delmar and Butler, to 650 per site,” Turner said.

It’s the same story at 11 affiliated sites, like the eight operated by the United Memorial Medical Center where more 83,000 people have been tested since March. On Sunday, almost 1,500 people showed up for tests at the Mexican consulate. Double the number from two weeks ago.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in number of tests being requested,” said Dr. Joseph Varon, Medical Director for UMMC. “Among all of our sites were testing about 1,000 per day, now we’re testing about 2,500 to 3,000 per day.”

Varon said testing and tracing are vital to controlling the spread of the virus. This week, the state will open five new free test sites to help, but so far, Houston and Texas have barely made a dent in testing the numbers needed to know the true infection rate here.

To make that possible, doctors recommended that at least 60% of the population would need to be tested. So far, only a small fraction of that number has been tested.