AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday the state now has the ability to test for the coronavirus.
Abbott made the announcement in a news conference with Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.
Abbott said tests can be conducted at 10 public health labs throughout the state that are part of the Centers for Disease Control’s “Laboratory Response Network.”
The labs are in Lubbock, Forth Worth, Dallas, Tyler, El Paso, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen.
So far, the labs in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Lubbock, El Paso and Forth Worth are already operational, Abbott said. The others will begin to test for the virus by the end of the month.
A San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Officials said their lab just received the kits, which needs two to three weeks to validate.
When all the labs receive the validation necessary to test for the virus, the state will be able to process more than 125 COVID-19 tests a day, Abbott said. The test consists of a nasal and oral swab.
“This new ability to provide testing in the state will shorten the time to get the test results,” Abbott said.
The spread of COVID-19, a unique strain of the coronavirus family, has led to concerns across Texas and the rest of the nation.
In Fort Bend County, a man in his 70s tested positive for COVID-19. He is the first man in Texas outside of evacuees from Wuhan, China and the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship to be diagnosed with the virus.
Abbott commented on the case, saying he was not surprised to learn of the diagnosis.
“We anticipated cases like this arising,” Abbott said.
Still, he praised the public’s response in taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously.
He urged communities to help slow the virus’s transmission by sanitizing schools and other venues, along with personal measures like hand washing and staying home if one is sick.
On Thursday, Methodist Healthcare hospital officials announced changes will be made to the screening process at the hospital.
Hospitals will be liming the number of entrances visitors can access and prior to entering, visitors will be asked if they have a cough or have traveled to countries where the virus is spreading rampantly.