Gov. Abbott asks for federal help for COVID testing and antibody treatments for Texas

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Friday, December 31, 2021
Mayor Turner provides COVID testing update at Houston sites
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner provided a COVID testing update and spoke about the sites opening to help with the overwhelming demand.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott is requesting federal help to slow down the latest COVID-19 surge in Texas.

The governor said Friday that the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of State Health Services requested resources for federally-supported testing sites, medical personnel and additional federal allocations of the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab.

Sotrovimab is used to fight the omicron variant of COVID-19 and reduces hospitalizations, but supplies have been running low.

Earlier this week, the state's health department warned that five of its regional infusion centers ran out sotrovimab, which is also the only monoclonal antibody treatment known to be effective against omicron.

The omicron variant makes up 90% of new cases in Texas.

The regional infusion center in The Woodlands is among the five that has exhausted its supply.

According to the governor's office, the state health department also asked the federal government to continue to supply Texas with Regeneron and bamlanivimab, monoclonal antibody treatments for other strains of COVID-19.

SEE ALSO: Latest samples show sharp increase in amount of COVID in Houston wastewater

The state says it's looking for support for testing sites in the following counties based on COVID-19 metrics such as positivity rate and hospitalizations: Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and Tarrant.

In Houston alone, two locations reopened as COVID mega testing sites, Delmar Stadium and Minute Maid Park.

Testing is free at both sites, but you'll have to schedule an appointment as both places have seen overwhelming demand.

On Thursday at the Minute Maid Park site, 1,018 people were tested, but more than 2,600 appointments were scheduled.

At a briefing Friday from the Minute Maid site, Mayor Sylvester Turner was asked about the amount of appointments scheduled versus the number of people who were tested.

The mayor said the issue was a computer glitch that allowed people to continue scheduling and registering beyond capacity. Turner says the glitch has been resolved.

  • To schedule an appointment at Delmar Stadium: Go to Curative online or call 1-888-702-9042. It's closed on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Otherwise, it will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • To schedule an appointment at Minute Maid Park, Lot C: Visit the My Covid Appointment website or call 833-213-0643. It will operate Saturdays through Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. The site is expected to be open on New Year's Day. New Year's Eve hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Turner added that two more mega testing sites will be opening next week.

The first will be at Butler Stadium at 13755 S. Main St., and the second location will be the old Dave and Buster's building on 6010 Richmond Ave. Both sides will have the capacity to handle 1,000 tests.

The mayor also warned about pop-up COVID testing sites that may not be affiliated with the Houston Health Department. If you have concerns or complaints about a pop-up site, you can contact the city's call center at 832-393-4220.

Watch full remarks from Mayor Turner on COVID testing progress in Houston.

The mayor talked about the expansion of COVID testing sites and how the city is ramping up those services.

Meanwhile, as for medical personnel, the state says it needs three teams to provide additional support to hospitals in urban areas that do not already have Department of State Health Services-contracted staff.

The mayor says he welcomes what the governor is doing, and will continue efforts to get people tested.

"We're ramping up even now," Turner said.

CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels by U.S. County

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If you want to get tested in Houston and the surrounding areas, multiple sites are available, and you can also go to CVS Health and Walgreens locations. Remember that COVID testing is free, but you should always call ahead to verify availability, insurance coverage or make an appointment as necessary.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.