Residents of Houston and Harris County can soon enjoy faster testing for COVID-19. Harris County and Walgreens announced a joint initiative to offer free, drive-through testing for those who suspect they may have the virus.
Walgreens announced that two of its locations — one in Houston and one in Pasadena — will offer testing for COVID-19 starting Friday, April 17. The two Houston-area locations —14531 Westheimer Rd. in Houston and 101 W. Southmore Ave. in Pasadena — are the only Walgreens outposts in Texas currently offering these tests, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at an April 16 press conference. Walgreens is only offering testing in a handful of states.
These are rapid “live virus” tests — taking 15 minutes — and results will come back in approximately 24 hours, Hidalgo added. Currently, Walgreens has capacity for up to 250 tests per day. A representative for Walgreens said there may be plans to expand testing.
This comes as Harris County has seen well beyond 4000 cases, and at least 50 deaths, with 84 new cases in Harris County and two new deaths as of April 16. Hidalgo noted that most of those deaths have been seniors.
Hidalgo added that in order for Houston and Harris County to get back to work, Houston and Harris County must "reach our peak" and get more mass testing — especially rapid testing.
"We're not out of the woods by a long shot," she added. "We hope and trust that private sector supply chains will keep up," she said of increased testing demands.
According to CultureMap news partner, ABC13, Walgreens began administering COVID-19 antibody blood tests to Houston first responders in a move Fire Chief Samuel Pena is calling "a huge help" for the department.
"It's just one more avenue, and it gives us a quicker return," said Pena.
The tests were made available for first responders — including Houston firefighters and police officers.