Houston will have a total of 5 COVID-19 mega testing sites due to a rise in cases and variants

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the omicron variant continues to spread and the increased demand for COVID-19 testing remains, the Houston Health Department opened another mega testing site Wednesday morning and two more mega sites will be open starting Thursday.

Kaylan Henderson, the deputy assistant director for the COVID response team with the Houston Health Department, is one of the many involved in ramping up the city's testing efforts.

"Back on Dec. 20 is when we first started seeing this influx of individuals wanting to come in and get tested. We have exceeded capacity every day," said Henderson.

Last week, the city of Houston opened mega sites at Delmar Stadium and Minute Maid Park.

On Wednesday, another site opened in southwest Houston at Butler Stadium. Starting Thursday, two more will be up and running. One will be located at a former Dave & Buster's off of Richmond Avenue and another is set to open at the Kingwood Community Center.

That will make a total of five mega sites in addition to dozens of smaller ones that will have the capacity to test about 30,000 people a day. City officials are hoping this will help with the long wait times and delayed results.

"You can't expect people to stand around and wait around for those three, four, five days. The goal is to get those test results turned around in 48 hours," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Henderson explains in order to not overwhelm the labs, they are branching out and working with different testing companies as they set up the additional mega sites.

"That's why we brought on a new partner Xpress COVID, so again, that labs will not be inundated by having additional partners that utilize various labs and so we're not all sourcing out of one lab so that we don't inundate them," said Henderson.

For now, Henderson says patience is needed when heading into the testing process, but says they are working to test all Houstonians that need one.

"Please bring your patience with you. The staff is working diligently. They are in that PPE and they do need their rest breaks, but we will rotate staff in a timely manner so that we can see all that come to the sites," said Henderson.

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