Mayor Turner announces survey aimed at understanding COVID-19 infection rate in Houston

Mayor Sylvester Turner gives an update on COVID-19 cases in Houston on Aug. 31, 2020. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday that the city was going to conduct a new survey that will help officials understand how many people in the city were previously infected with COVID-19.

Antibody testing survey

The Houston Health Department is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine to perform the antibody testing survey in the Houston area.

The survey will help city leaders and health officials identify people infected in the past with the virus by the presence of antibodies, proteins the body’s immune system makes to fight infections.

How it will work

Officials said homes will be randomly selected across the Houston area for the survey. Those homes will be visited by team members of the health department and Houston Fire Department paramedics, officials said.

Household members will be asked to answer questions and provide a blood sample.

The program will be done in two phases.

Phase 1 will be from Sept. 8-24 and results from the testing will be available two weeks later, Turner said. If the antibody test comes back positive, participates will be asked to be tested again in Phase 2.

“If we knock on your door, I strongly encourage you and your loved ones to participate in this important survey,” Turner said. “The data you provide by participating will help inform strategies to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”

How will homes be selected?

Homes in vulnerable communities or hardest-hit communities will be approached by the teams and will eligible to participate. Turner said participation is voluntary.

“The Houston Health Department’s Better. Together. public health education campaign reminds Houstonians we must work together to overcome the virus and this antibody study is an opportunity to help,” Turner said.

The teams can be identifiable by their “Better Together” shirts.

For more information about the antibody survey, click here.

COVID-19 cases

On Wednesday, the Houston Health Department reported 176 new COVID-19 cases and 18 virus-related deaths. Turner said most deaths came from the minority community, especially the Hispanic community. He said a number of deaths reported Wednesday were from July and some from August.

Turner said the city has not reached its 5% goal for the positivity rate and while new case numbers are lowering daily, deaths likely remain high.

The mayor asked for residents to continue to be careful when more businesses reopen and going into the holiday weekend.

Turner said those who are warned about wearing and mask and continue to violate Governor Greg Abbott’s mask order will be cited.

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