Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says expect ‘exponential’ increase in positive coronavirus cases

Gov. Greg Abbott addresses the press after a meeting with government officials on COVID-19 preparedness in the state last month. (Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

The number of Texans testing positive for the new coronavirus is likely to dramatically rise as the state’s testing capacity ramps up and cases of community spread continue to climb, Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday.

"You're going to see an exponential increase in the number of people testing positive on a daily basis, " Abbott said at a press conference.

By the end of this week, testing for the new coronavirus in Texas is expected to ramp up to 10,000 tests weekly, Abbott said.

State and federal officials have reported at least 69 cases in the state as of Monday. There are likely more unconfirmed cases, given that there are examples of community spread and there has been limited testing capacity. Community spread occurs when the source of infection is unknown.

Abbott's comments in San Antonio came as school districts are shuttering, local officials are banning events with large groups of people and Texans are being told to practice social distancing and work from home if they can.

First responders, healthcare workers, vulnerable populations and those with symptoms will be prioritized for testing, the governor said.

Abbott emphasized that aside from public testing, private health care providers will have access to the new coronavirus tests as well. The governor encouraged those with private insurance to see their current doctor.

"By end of week, everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will be able to get a COVID-19 test," the governor said.

To get tested, individuals will need a doctor's order, the governor said.

"You can't just drive up like you would drive up to a Whataburger and order a cheeseburger. You can't just walk up to this and order a COVID-19 test," Abbott said of drive-through testing centers that will continue opening throughout the state.

Those who are asymptomatic will not be tested, the governor said — though public health officials have warned infected people without symptoms can also spread the virus.