Houston coronavirus testing sites remain open despite supply chain hiccups

Health officials said they could only commit to keeping the city and county testing sites open for a few days at a time as it awaits additional supplies. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Health officials said they could only commit to keeping the city and county testing sites open for a few days at a time as it awaits additional supplies. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

Health officials said they could only commit to keeping the city and county testing sites open for a few days at a time as it awaits additional supplies. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

Less than a week after opening three free city and county-led coronavirus drive-thru testing sites, local officials could only commit to keeping them for a few days at a time.

A weekly shipment of supplies from FEMA, including test kits and personal protective equipment, was smaller than expected when it arrived March 26, Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse told reporters. As a result, the city could only confirm that its drive-thru site at Butler Stadium can stay open without disruption through the weekend.

“That shipment routine has not yet become routine, so we are waiting just like you are to find out when it is going to arrive and what exactly is going to be in it,” Persse said.

As of March 26, the end of the first week that most major test centers were open, the City of Houston had tested 1,062 patients at its site and Harris County tested 1,700 patients across its two sites, public health authorities said. These figures do not include testing going on at privately run sites. Two of the biggest include Legacy Community Health which tested 1,070 patients in its first week of testing and United Memorial Medical Center which tested 1,447 patients.

As testing capacity remains somewhat limited, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he has turned to state authorities and to soliciting bids from private providers. He said the city was recently outbid for a shipment from a private supplier.


Turner said widespread testing is important in determining the extent of the virus’s reach in the area. It currently has a $2 million bid out for supplies.

Lagging capacity has been a concern for local leaders since early on in the outbreak, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters in March. 20.

“I don’t want to create false hope that we are ready right now to have a radical increase in testing,” she said. “We are unfortunately not.”

In the coming weeks, Persse said the city hopes to get on a weekly shipment schedule that will allow its first drive-thru site to operate at its capacity of 250 tests per day. If additional capacity becomes possible, the city will add another drive-thru site, Persee said.

In the first week of operation, numbers provided by Houston Health Departmetn show that the city site was able to meet demand for testing without turning people away.

In addition to the city and county’s free drive-thru sites, other private providers are offering testing. Find more information about testing options in the Houston area here.

Persse said anyone interested in donating medical supplies to area hospitals can contact cmoc@setrack.org.


MOST RECENT

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

On May 27, SpaceX will launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. This marks the first time in nearly a decade U.S. astronauts have launched from the U.S. (Courtesy NASA Television)
UPDATED: Here's how to watch the historic May 30 SpaceX rocket launch

For the first time since 2011, NASA astronauts are launching from U.S. soil to space.

Public health officials have now confirmed five deaths total over the past five days in the county. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: No new deaths, 286 new cases confirmed in Harris County May 26

Public health officials have now confirmed five deaths total over the past five days in the county.

Starting May 29, water parks will be able to open up to 25% capacity. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott issues proclamation allowing water parks to open

Starting Friday, May 29, water parks will be allowed to open but must limit guests to 25% of their normal operating capacity.

Loop 610 will be shut down overnight each night from May 25-29 as construction continues on the I-69 interchange project. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Overnight closure of Loop 610 and four other I-69 construction updates to know, May 25-29

Loop 610 will be shut down overnight each night from May 25-29 as construction continues on the I-69 interchange project.

The flute section of the Rouse High School marching band from Leander performs in this 2017 file photo. (Courtesy Leander ISD)
Texas schools may begin hosting sports workouts, band practices June 8

The University Interscholastic League released guidelines for allowing sports workouts and marching bands to practice.

Under guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, day care centers, bars and entertainment venues—including bowling alleys and bingo parlors—were allowed to reopen a limited occupancy May 22. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Officials confirm 469 new cases over Memorial Day weekend

Under guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, day care centers, bars and entertainment venues—including bowling alleys and bingo parlors—were allowed to reopen a limited occupancy May 22.

Houston ISD was distributing as much as 15,000 pounds of food per day during its 10-week community program, which wrapped up May 22. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston ISD transitions to curbside meal pickup program starting June 1

After two months of distributing food across the community, Houston ISD is changing gears for the summer.

Souq International Markets will open its new Katy-area location soon. (Susan Rovegno/Community Impact Newspaper)
ROUNDUP: Memorial Day business updates from the Houston area

Read some of the latest business news from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

Houston's unemployment rate hit a record high at 14.2%, leaving more than 450,000 workers unemployed. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Greater Houston area sees record-breaking unemployment rate in April at 14.2%

The previous high for the Greater Houston area's unemployment rate was set in January 2010 at 8.7%.

Harris County homeowners who are age 65 or older or who have disabilities can expect property tax relief this year in the form of expanded property tax exemptions. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County unanimously votes to increase homestead exemptions for seniors, the disabled

Harris County homeowners who are age 65 or older or who have disabilities can expect property tax relief this year in the form of expanded property tax exemptions.

Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said she is exploring multiple options for the 2020-21 school year. (Screnshot via HISD TV)
Longer school days and more: Top stories from this week in Houston

Read the most popular stories covering the Greater Houston area from this week on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.