SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KXAN) — At a press conference Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shared that Texas is expanding its ability to provide test kits for the virus that causes COVID-19. Abbott said that when all of the public and private healthcare facilities who offer this testing are ready to go, more than 10,000 people will be able to get tested each week in Texas.
“By the end of this week, everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will be able to get a COVID-19 test,” Abbott said, adding that not everyone needs a COVID-19 test and that patients will need a doctor’s order to get tested. These tests can come in the form of a nasal or a throat swab, the governor said.
“Here’s what you’re going to see over the coming week,” Abbott said. “You’re going to see an exponential increase in the number of people who test positive on a daily basis. So, people just need to prepare and not be shocked for the mathematical reality that once wide-scale testing is being implemented, there will be a lot more people who identify as testing positive for COVID-19.”
As COVID-19 has spread across the U.S. in the past few weeks, regions have seen delays in and confusion surrounding access to these tests, with federal leaders acknowledging the lack of test kits to meet the demand. On March 11, Austin Public Health told KXAN that the state lab that runs COVID-19 tests for Travis County, as well as nineteen other counties, could only test up to 25 samples per day at that point.
But the number of laboratories in Texas available to test these kits has expanded in the past two weeks and private labs have begun offering this testing in addition to the public labs.
Abbott said at the press conference that more public, private, and federal groups will be offering drive-through testing locations like the ones already in San Antonio and Austin.
The Texas governor also said he has heard from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that testing nationwide will soon have the capability to test more than one million people per week.
Abbott said that Texas currently has 57 “presumptive positive” COVID-19 cases across 15 counties, and he noted that number does not include patients at Lackland Airforce Base. He said that more than 200 Texans have already been tested in public health labs or by the CDC.
Currently, 300 Texans are being tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, Abbott said. He noted that these numbers will likely change each day.
“We need our fellow Texans to step up and do their part,” Abbott said, encouraging Texans to isolate themselves from exposure and to distance themselves from other people.
Other measures to address COVID-19
The governor also noted that more than half of the state’s school districts are closed. The governor has also restricted visitation to nursing homes and fast-tracked licensing for out-of-state medical professionals.
“We are bringing on to staff as many medical professionals as we possibly can,” Abbott said.
Abbott also noted that Texas received an allotment of supplies such as personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile and said that Texas will be receiving more from that allotment in the future.
The local and state leaders at the press conference made sure to discourage the public from continuing to rush to grocery stores to hoard supplies.
“These stores, I have been in contact with all of them, they have plenty of supplies that are needed, they are restocking on a daily basis, there is no need to hoard or restock supplies,” Abbott said.