Harris Co. opens COVID-19 test sites early due to heat


HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Potentially dangerous high temperatures force health officials to adjust test site hours today in Harris County. Cy-Fair and Pasadena sites opened at 6 am and the mobile sites moved at 7:30 am today.The move comes a day after Harris County Public Health decided to close all of its COVID-19 test centers on Friday morning.

Sites managed by the city of Houston, the state of Texas, and most private entities remained open.

Another heat advisory was issued by the National Weather Service on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The heat index values ​​could reach 110 degrees. “Our people are always paying attention,” said judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris Co. earlier this week. “But these days, it’s just too high. It would endanger our health care workers. It’s difficult, but we have to protect the people who administer the tests. ”

Residents meeting on Friday were invited to return on Saturday.

The biggest frustration for local officials, however, is the fact that getting the results of these tests now sometimes takes a week or more. This is because the largest free testing sites are supported by the federal government, which has a contract with national laboratories to work on the tests. This means that the tests must be shipped out of state, and the backlog delays the results.

“Frankly, we should not be in this position as a nation. Testing is a tool we need from the start, and if we had tests in February or March, we wouldn’t be in these stops, “said Hidalgo.

As part of its ongoing efforts to step up testing, the City of Houston will open a testing site in the second district, if necessary. The test site, which is scheduled to open next week, will be located at Houston Community College on the Felix Fraga campus. The idea is that it will be closer to many members of the Hispanic community who may not be able to access larger test sites.

“The Latin American community is being hit very hard,” said State Senator Carol Alvarado, who advocated for more testing and medical services in Hispanic communities. “In the city of Houston alone, more than 4,800 Latinos have tested positive. That’s just over 20 percent of the confirmed cases just in the city of Houston. ”

Alvarado says if opening new test sites would be helpful, she believes state lawmakers should work on more comprehensive improvements when they return to the Legislative Assembly next January. “Many of us have been trying over the past decade to get Medicaid expanded. We have the largest number of uninsured people in the state. It’s a shame, it’s a shame, and we have to do better next session. ”

For more information, visit www.publichealth.harriscountytx.gov.

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