Number of people in Houston-area testing still falling, health authority says

Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Number of people in Houston-area testing still falling
While the reason for the drop is inconclusive, Harris County's top health authority offered two possibilities for the trend.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The COVID-19 positivity rate has decreased in Houston and Harris County, but the number of people coming to get tested for the virus has also decreased, according to area health experts.

The county was testing about 2,500 people a day in July and August, but that number dropped to 500. In the city, 18,000 people were tested the week of July 23, but only 8,200 people were tested the week of Sept. 24, said Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health.

READ MORE: Fewer people taking COVID-19 tests, Harris Co. Judge says

"I do think there's some (COVID-19) fatigue," said Dr. Shah, who doesn't know exactly why testing is down.

He says some people may not want to get tested, or people who have tested for the virus before might not be coming back to get tested again.

"There may be some folks that incorrectly feel, 'Hey, I've been tested once, that means that I'm good to go,'" Shah said.

As far as testing data goes, there has been backlog issues too.

According to Shah, some labs have returned old test results' which led to a large number of test results coming in at one time. And some incomplete data, like missing birth dates, increases test results processing times.

Despite that, Shah said the county has improved its system overall, which has been a huge help.

"We enacted an automation process so a lot of the manual entry that was happening has now (been) supplemented, at times replaced depending on what the actual activity is, by automation which allows us to actually go through a lot more laboratory results faster," he said. "But we still know that we have incomplete (data), and we are also still getting backlog information on a daily basis."

Follow Marla Carter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.