Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo: Harris County lacks coronavirus testing capabilities

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo painted a concerning picture Tuesday about the county's ability to test for the virus.

During a meeting of the Harris County Commissioner's Court, Hidalgo outlined how the testing process works.

"We have to request approval from the state before they allow us to send a test to the City of Houston lab or the CDC lab in Atlanta," Hidalgo said. "We have a lack of testing capability as has been discussed in the media. In many places, they are testing many times the number of tests we're able to do."

The Houston Health Department laboratory conducts COVID-19 testing for specimens collected by medical providers from patients who meet CDC COVID-19 testing criteria. The city said results are expected within 24 hours of the arrival of specimens to the lab, which serves as the regional public health laboratory for a 17-county region of Southeast Texas.

While the judge's comments pointed to a slow process, the Houston Health Dept. reports no issues. The lab received a kit last week that allowed staff to test 350 people for COVID-19, officials said. If they run out of kits, the lab is able to order more.

Despite the lack of issues reported by the city lab, the county judge gave a different outlook to commissioners on Tuesday.

"Normally, we receive support from the federal government to coordinate. This time, we're having to do this from the ground up," Hidalgo said.

RELATED: Houston health department lab now conducting local COVID-19 testing

What Houston-area school districts, health departments are doing about coronavirus

Where are the COVID-19 cases across the globe?



RELATED STORIES:

Doctor answers your coronavirus questions

What uninsured Texans should do if they think they have coronavirus

6 Texas labs equipped to test coronavirus, Gov. Abbott says

What we know about the 14 coronavirus cases in Houston-area

How to ease your family's coronavirus anxieties

Meet the Houston doctors working on coronavirus vaccine



Map of COVID-19 cases across the US, updated as confirmed by CDC
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.