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Fort Bend family struggles to schedule COVID-19 tests prompting local health departments to admit troubles

The last few weeks have been a challenge for the Tingler family. Three of the four Fort Bend County residents have experienced COVID-19 symptoms and battling to schedule tests.

Heidi Tingler said it started when her husband got sick a few weeks ago. He initially tested negative for the coronavirus but his doctor believed the test may have been a false negative and treated him as a COVID-19 patient. His symptoms include fever, body aches and cough.

While her husband slowly recovers, Tingler said other members of their family are starting to experience similar symptoms.

“I began showing some symptoms of COVID-19: the body aches, the fever, chills, dry cough. I knew it took a few days to get him in. I thought I need to go ahead and try to get myself in and tested,” she said.

Tingler said she tried calling two urgent care centers in the Sienna area.

“One of which is no longer doing the COVID-19 drive up testing because they are so overwhelmed,” Tingler said. “I did another one in my area as well and I’m actually still on the waiting list and haven’t heard since Friday, July 3.”

Tingler said she also scheduled and completed a virtual health visit with Houston Methodist but said she is still waiting to see if she is eligible to be tested. However, she did receive a call back from a Fort Bend County free testing center. She said she was alarmed when they said the soonest she could be tested was July 13, about 12 days from when she initially called.

“I said I’m willing to drive a little further if you have something a little further. He said, ‘Ma’am, we are completely overwhelmed. We are dealing with over 2,000 callbacks a day,‘” Tingler said.

Tingler said her 11-year daughter is now also experiencing symptoms but admits she was able to schedule her a test rather quickly through a pediatrician. The child is scheduled to take the test Friday at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Still, she worries about others who could soon find themselves in a similar position.

“I just want to be sure that in doing this it’ll help others get tested and actually show the real picture,” Tingler said.

KPRC 2 reached out to the local health departments regarding COVID-19 testing capacity:

Fort Bend County issued this statement regarding testing:

Our COVID-19 testing sites have reached capacity for today. The registration page site will reopen at 8 am, Monday – Saturday to allow testing appointments to be scheduled for symptomatic, vulnerable and/or exposed individuals until capacity is met. We appreciate your understanding.

Harris County Public Health released the following statement:

All Harris County Public Health testing sites have been overcapacity for the last few weeks. HCPH currently operates two stationary testing sites (Pridgeon Stadium and San Jacinto Community College) and six mobile testing units that move weekly to different parts of the county.

With our two federal sites and our six mobile sites, we have the capacity to test 2500 people for COVID-19 every day (except Sundays and during adverse weather). We have seen a high demand for testing, and ask people to please try the following day to get an appointment if they are unsuccessful today. We also want to remind the public that there are many other places that offer this test, including private healthcare providers.

Houston Health Department responded with the following message:

Our two FEMA-affiliated community-based testing sites (Butler and Delmar Stadiums) offer same-day appointments. Once we hit our daily capacity of appointments for 650 specimens at each site, we stop making appointments for the day and help navigate people to other free partner testing sites in Houston.

We recognize there is not enough testing for the current demand. People looking for an appointment at Butler our Delmar Stadium sites should try to contact our call center (832-393-4220) in the morning hours. People can also visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for more testing options in the city.

For additional testing sites across the Greater Houston area and Texas visit: the Harris County coronavirus testing information and the Department of Health Services coronavirus testing information.