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Judge Hidalgo discusses plan aimed at speeding up coronavirus test results

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo discussed a plan aimed at dealing with a surge in coronavirus testing and speeding up results from those tests.

Hidalgo said the county is partnering with the federal and state departments of Health and Human Services to transition the testing sites at both Ken Pridgeon Stadium and San Jacinto College Central Campus to surge testing sites beginning Thursday.

According to Hidalgo, Harris County (outside city limits) has seen the highest case count for a single day since the pandemic started with 700 new cases.

“The cases continue to go up. The deaths continue to go up,” Hidalgo said. “Hospitalizations have begun to come down very very slowly, but are still at an incredibly high level. Of course, we expect the high cases will lead to an additional increase in hospitalizations.”

Hidalgo said the good news is the county received 30,000 tests from the federal government that have been expedited so they have a turnaround time of around three to five days.

“The testing turn around times are key for everyone ... It’s important for us, as well, in the public health arena to be able to identify how many people are coming back positive. To be able to do a follow up with those folks and to do the contact tracing,” Hidalgo said. “If it takes us a week or two weeks to get the results, by then it’s almost pointless. You’ve already had many many contacts for that one person that has the virus.”

People can begin signing up for the surge tests starting Wednesday. You can go to Readyharris.org or call 832-927-7575 for more information.

The supply is expected to last a few weeks, but once the tests run out, Hidalgo said the county is set up to continue providing rapid results at the Pridgeon Stadium and San Jacinto College Central testing locations.

Starting Thursday, the county will be adding evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at both those locations.

Hidalgo said right now, as a community we need to continue to stay home, wear masks, practice social distancing and do everything in our power to help contain the spread of coronavirus, including keeping schools closed.

“Right now, schools should not reopen. I’m continuing to urge the superintendents to be responsible and not put our community at risk,” Hidalgo said. “We’ve got to bring (the numbers) way down. The only way we do that is not through testing, not just through masks. It’s through staying home, not having gatherings and certainly not have children in touch with one another who then go home and spread the virus.”

Jerry Orsak said he was tested at Pridgeon Stadium a few months ago and didn’t have to wait long for the results. He understands why people want to find out quickly.

“For their own peace of mind and if they’re working, they can go back to work and not have to stay out anymore,” Orsak said.

In addition to the testing sites, Harris County Public Health teams can also take testing to your front door. The county said its teams will drive to a person’s house if they are homebound or have no transportation. The visits happen several times a week and need to be arranged in advance.

Watch the full news conference below:

🔴WATCH LIVE: Hidalgo discusses plan aimed at speeding up results from coronavirus tests

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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