Houstonians could see coronavirus drive-thru testing next week

Coronavirus drive-thru testing is underway in some states across the U.S. including Texas and Washington, according to officials.

In an interview with ABC13 Saturday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said FEMA will be setting up one or two mobile testing sites this upcoming week in the area.

Turner also emphasized that city water will not be disconnected through April.

"There's no reason to panic. I know anxiety levels are high. I get that, but this is not a crisis we have not experienced in some form or fashion. Harvey, that was a new phenomenon, structures impacted. But, we came through that and we're still standing, resilient. We focus on bouncing back," Turner said. "Houston has been challenged before, and we've risen to the occasion. We'll rise to the occasion if we don't panic, properly manage and recognize that it's not a sprint. You're going to have to run several laps."

Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster on Friday. The declaration came as the number of COVID-19 cases climbed and reached into San Antonio and Austin, where illnesses were reported for the first time Friday.

READ ALSO: What we know about the 19 Houston-area coronavirus cases

Abbott said that drive-thru testing for people, including first responders and high-risk patients, will begin in the state, with the first location being in San Antonio. He said there are a total of nine drive-thru testing centers around the state.

Texas has 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 220 people have been tested so far, according to Abbott.

ABC News learned Dallas-based hospital chain Tenet Healthcare Corp. said they're prepared, but have not yet opened, a drive-up testing for COVID-19 where potentially infected people can get a test from their car.

Since New York's roll out of a drive-thru mobile testing site Friday morning, ABC News reached out to public health and government officials in all 50 states to assess the state of drive-thru testing across the country.

New Mexico and Utah were the only two states to confirm to ABC News that officials were actively working on a plan to implement government run drive-thru or mobile testing sites.

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed they are "in the process of establishing drive-thru testing and will have additional details as they solidify."

ABC News also confirmed various private hospitals and clinics in states including Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, and Texas were working to develop their own drive-thru or mobile sites.

Dr. Gary Procop of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, which just launched its testing operation on Thursday, told ABC News the clinic is actively looking at setting up local swab collection sites in a manner "similar to a drive-thru."

Procop said those kind of out-patient initiatives are "high on their list" of priorities.

States with drive-thru sites already running:

  • New York
  • Washington
  • Texas

States with government-run plans in the works:

New Mexico

The New Mexico Department of Health confirms to ABC News they are "in the process of establishing drive-thru testing and will have additional details as they solidify."

On Thursday, Utah government officials in at least one county said they are presently working to implement telehealth triage, drive-thru testing and greater lab capability to detect COVID-19. The state has launched a digital COVID-19 Test Request Tool.

States with private hospital/clinic plans in the works:

In Ohio, there are currently no plans for drive-thru testing sites being discussed in either the health department or governor's office, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Private hospitals and labs in the state, however, are planning their own operations.

Tennessee's state health department has not rolled out drive-thru testing, but some of the hospitals are working on plans for remote locations or designated spots outside their normal clinical facilities to triage. Until they announce they've been rolled out, the state's health department does not know specific details on timing. The state does broadly have an apparatus to conduct drive-thru testing, but are not currently working on setting up drive-thru locations with county health departments. They might also do mobile clinics through the state.

The state of Missouri is not running any drive-thru testing facilities, and is not considering it at this moment, Health and Senior Services spokesperson Lisa Cox told ABC News. Cox said clinics or private labs might be rolling out drive-thru tests, but those would be independent from the state health department.

Area hospitals are exploring setting up triage sites where medical employees can test potentially infected people away from ER. This could include drive-thru sites.

On Monday, the University of Washington opened drive-thru testing site for UW medicine employees at its northwest campus, and the center could expand to test UW students and nearby first responders.

States either not currently running drive-thru testing or have no plans in the works:

North Carolina
The North Carolina Department of Health told ABC News they have "no specific plans for that to happen right now, because of the testing criteria."

As of Friday, Nebraska has no drive-thru testing facilities, Health Department spokesperson Khalilah LeGrand told ABC News.

New Jersey
There are no drive-thru testing facilities running in the state of New Jersey as of Friday, health department spokesperson Janelle Flaming told ABC News. As of now, New Jersey is not considering setting up drive-thru testing facilities.

Health department spokesperson Ann Scales told ABC News she is not aware of any drive-thru testing in the state of Massachusetts, but said they will be sending out new guidance at some point on Friday for clinicians.

Health Department spokesperson Andrea Ahneman told ABC News that she's not directly aware of any drive-thru testing facilities running in Minnesota. But Ahneman added that any drive-thru testing facilities at least in Minnesota are done at the clinic level not at the public lab level.

ABC News will continue to update this information as we hear back from more states.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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