HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Here’s what you need to know if you need to get a COVID-19 test in Harris County or the Houston area.
In a press conference Thursday, Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department said in Houston the positivity rate for COVID-19 has increased to almost 25 percent, which means one in four tests are coming back positive. This is almost double the state average.
Supply vs. Demand
Harris County Public Health and Houston Health Department are working to expand the testing capacity to try to keep up with the demand for testing. Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department told ABC13 Friday, its testing sites are booked just hours after opening. Harris County tests about 2,500 people at its eight sites every day.
In Houston, at Butler and Delmar stadiums the city increased its capacity to 650 tests at each site, daily. Yet, it still reaches capacity, shortly before or after noon. Eyewitness News viewers have also reported waiting in three to six hour lines to get a test.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management stated it was also seeing a higher demand for testing at its mobile testing sites around the state, but are able to keep up with demand with test results typically turned in between 72-96 hours.
Testing sites will be closed on the Fourth of July and will reopen on Sunday. Some won’t reopen until Monday.
What is the process?
If you call your primary doctor first, and you are not showing symptoms, the office may direct you to the Harris County Public Health website for testing.
When you find a location, depending on its operations, you may have to complete a brief screening process. Some are completed online, others you can call the clinic or testing site and they will ask you a series of questions.
Next, you can set up an appointment or go to the nearest testing site.
Longer wait times for testing results
Viewers have reported it has taken longer than expected to receive test results. Harris County Public Health confirmed labs are currently seeing an influx in tests.
If you go to a testing site through Harris County Public Health, patients typically receive their results in five to seven days, but the county told ABC13 Friday, the labs that process the tests are overwhelmed and results are taking even longer than expected.
The Houston Health Department reports it could take three to five days to receive results.
LabCorp released a statement to ABC13 on Friday regarding the delayed testing results:
“Rapidly delivering test results to ordering healthcare providers, pharmacy drive-through patients, at-home test kit patient customers, nursing homes, employers and others has been a priority for LabCorp and we have been delivering test results on average between 1-2 days from the date of specimen pick up. Test results are most typically reported electronically, which generally allows for faster delivery. In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for molecular testing and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering results in a timely manner while continually increasing testing capacity. With the recent increase in demand, results on average may take 1-2 days longer. We expect our capacity for molecular tests to increase from 130,000 to 150,000 tests per day by mid-July.”
New testing site opening Sunday at 9 a.m. in Houston
Abbas Khan, the founder of Bloom Labs, said he saw the ‘testing crisis’ across the state and wanted to offer people another avenue for testing. Bloom Labs will be opening drive-thru testing located across from NRG Stadium at 1615 South Loop West Fwy. SVC Rd., Houston, TX 77054.
Testing will start Sunday at 9 a.m. The business hours for the remainder of the week are Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Khan said the test costs $149 and people can register on-site. There are both swab and saliva tests that will be available. Test results are expected in 48 to 72 hours.
“Our goal, our aim is to help, so what we’ve done is partner with labs in Oklahoma and Austin. We’ll be shipping our results every night and we have the capacity to see at least 1,000 people a day,” Khan said. The Yale University of Public Health released this study that shows greater sensitivity in (saliva) test results over nasal.”