Six Texas labs now able to test for coronavirus

On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott announced Texas now has public health labs set up around the state to test for the coronavirus. 

Currently, there are six labs with the ability to do so, including the state lab at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin as well as labs in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, and Lubbock. 

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The governor said there will eventually be 10 testing centers around the state once labs in Tyler, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Harlingen complete the validation process. 

“The state public health lab network will be able to process more than 125 COVID-19 tests per day,” Abbott said. 

Three people in the Houston area have already tested positive for the virus; one in Fort Bend County and two in Harris County. The Public Health Department said all of them caught it while traveling. 

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“The Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Department is also conducting an epidemiological contact investigation into who the individual might have come into contact with after returning home and before being isolated in a hospital,” said Abbott. 

The governor said state health officials are not surprised by local cases. In fact, it was expected. 

“We call it a novel coronavirus because it hasn't circulated in human populations before, which means there's no population that has pre-existing immunity, which means that there is the potential for it to spread very rapidly,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner.  

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That's why health professionals said the quicker they can determine someone's risk, the better. 

“This new ability to provide testing in the state will shorten the time to get the test results and will help public health take the appropriate steps,” Abbott said. 

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The governor said the state is prepared for cases of COVID-19, though it's also on the public to do their part to prevent the spread.

“By and large, the general public is responding to this exactly the way they should be responding to it. They're taking it serious, but they're not panicking,” said Abbott.  


Test results for one or more people in Travis County, who are being monitored by the health department, have yet to be released.