Fort Bend County announced in a April 14 press release that residents without symptoms of the coronavirus can now be tested at its free, drive-thru testing site.
"Until now, people were screened to determine if they were symptomatic or in a high-risk category, such as first responders," per the release.
However, county residents must first call 281-238-2363 to get an identification code and to schedule date and time for a test, according to the release.
In partnership with AccessHealth, the county launched the testing site March 30, according to the release. People cannot show up to the site without a code and scheduled time. The site can perform up to 200 tests per day.
“I am pleased that we have found the resources to open our county testing side to everyone who wants to be tested at no cost to them,” Judge KP George said in the release.. “I want to thank all the hard working Fort Bend County and AccessHealth employees who are working around the clock to make our community safer for families and especially those most vulnerable to this terrible virus. I pray that more testing will help save lives.”
Update 4:02 p.m. April 13
Fort Bend County may follow the city of Houston’s action to reduce criteria for prescreening at COVID-19 testing sites.
“We have been working on that since last week about lowering our criteria for screening,” said Jacquelyn Minter, Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Department director and local health authority, at the regular April 14 meeting of Commissioners Court.
“We’re looking at those plans to go head and loosen all the criteria,” she added. “[Patients] can look to the website. We’ll have that available very, very soon, as a matter of fact, very soon.”
Existing county guidelines for coronavirus testing prioritize vulnerable populations including seniors, health care workers and first responders, per HHS’ website. Patients are screened first before being instructed to go to a testing site.
The county partnered with AccessHealth to open a free, drive-thru coroanvirus testing site late March. Fort Bend County has four other testing sites run by OakBend Medical Center, NextLevel Urgent Care, UT Physicians Multispecialty-Sienna and United Memorial Medical Center, per the HHS website.
However, criteria vary by public, private, on-site and drive-thru testing locations throughout the Greater Houston area. More information is available here.