On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced there would be 10 sites in the State of Texas that would be able to provide testing for the coronavirus.
Testing will be conducted by public health labs throughout the state in the following cities as part of the Laboratory Response Network:
- Fort Worth
- El Paso
- San Antonio
- Corpus Christi
Currently, only six sites are equipped for testing (Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Lubbock). Labs in Tyler, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen will be up and running soon, according to Gov. Abbott.
"The state public health lab network will be able to test over 125 patients per day once the entire network is equipped, Gov. Abbott said. "The ability to provide testing in Texas will help shorten the time for healthcare providers to receive test results and public health officials to take appropriate steps."
The testing in Tyler will be done by the Public Health Laboratory of East Texas (PHLET) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, according to Russell Hopkins with the Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health).
Patients will not physically go to the lab to be tested. Rather, patients will need to go to their doctor. The doctor will collect a sample, which will be sent to PHLET for testing.
"The Health Department (NET Health) will not have testing capabilities," Hopkins said in a statement to CBS19. "The PHLET will receive specimens from the regional hospitals."
WHAT IS THE PHLET?
Established in 2004, the Public Health Laboratory of East Texas (PHLET) is a registered Laboratory Response Network (LRN) reference laboratory that provides public health laboratory services and bioterrorism testing to East Texas. LRN laboratories are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as reference laboratories that are focused on public health preparedness. The LRN and its partners maintain an integrated national and international network of laboratories that are fully equipped to respond quickly to acts of chemical or biological threats, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health threats and emergencies.
PHLET provides testing for agents of bioterrorism and emerging pathogens to public health partners, clinical laboratories, and law enforcement agencies serving Texas Health Service Regions, covering 35 counties in East Texas.
The lab serves the following counties: Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Delta, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Houston, Jasper, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Rains, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Trinity, Tyler. Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood.
Health department officials, laboratories and law enforcement members (FBI, Police, Fire/Hazmat) may submit samples to PHLET. They do not accept samples from the general public.
CORONAVIRUS IN TEXAS
On Wednesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced the first positive test result for the coronavirus in Texas. On Thursday, Harris County officials confirmed two more travel-related cases of the coronavirus
"A travel-related case in Texas doesn’t indicate spread within the state, but the DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and all state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans," a statement from the DSHS said. "The immediate risk to most Texans remains low."
The DSHS is urging health care professionals to ask patients with respiratory symptoms about their travel history and contact their local or regional health department if they think a patient may have COVID-19. The DSHS is working with local health departments to monitor and assess people with recent travel to China for possible COVID-19 testing.
There are simple steps everyone can take to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
DSHS has additional information on the COVID-19 for the public, health care professionals, health departments and labs at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.
You can also text "FACTS" to (903) 600-2600 for more information on the coronavirus.