Harris County leaders have teamed up with Walgreens and have added two new COVID-19 testing sites in the city of Houston and Pasadena.
"We need mass testing. Universal, rapid testing so everybody knows who is healthy and who is not," said Judge Lina Hidalgo at a briefing of the county's coronavirus response on Thursday. "That's the only way to getting us back to work."
Testing at the new Walgreens locations will begin today and will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Houston location is at 14531 Westheimer Rd. near Highway 6 and the Pasadena location is at 101 West Southmore Ave. near Shaver Street.
Those sites will be able to test up to 200 people a day.
"The impressive and exciting thing about these two sites that Walgreens has provided is that these are 15-minute tests," explained Hidalgo. "These are rapid tests. Folks won't get results for 24 hours, but that's fast. That's the kind of speed we need."
Harris County already has a total of nine testing sites at no cost.
Hidalgo said the testing process at the new Walgreens locations will be a lot like the testing sites in the county.
There is no residency requirement, which means you can drive in from a surrounding county and get tested.
However, you must make an appointment. In order to do that, visit the Ready Harris website.
BIG DEAL! 2 new #Covid_19 test sites. Drive-thru year will take you 15 min and you get results in 24 hrs. You MUST make an appt.— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) April 17, 2020
Happening at 2 diff Walgreens: Pasadena & west Houston. Click ➡️ https://t.co/lmgGZbumWx #abc13 pic.twitter.com/aW2I2quuAG
As of Thursday, Hidalgo announced 84 new COVID-19 cases, all of which were reported outside the city of Houston. She also announced two new deaths.
"We need to continue with our efforts until we get back to normal," said Hidalgo. "I know folks are hurting. I know people are hurting. It's painful, emotionally and economically. I'm committed to getting us to normal life as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, Walgreens began administering COVID-19 antibody blood tests to Houston first responders on Thursday in a move Fire Chief Samuel Pena is calling "a huge help" for the department.
"It's just one more avenue, and it gives us a quicker return," said Pena.
The tests were made available for first responders including Houston firefighters and police officers.