Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee working to bring free testing sites to minorities

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Testing is widely known as one of the most pivotal responses to COVID-19 because it can help slow the spread, and it's a desperate need in communities of color.

They are being affected at a disproportionate rate.

Recent reports both nationally and locally show minorities are being hit harder by the novel coronavirus. In the state of Texas, Blacks and Hispanics account for more than 50 percent of COVID-19 cases. In Houston, people of color account for more than half of the COVID-19 deaths-- 35 percent African American and 30 percent Hispanic.

"Testing saves lives," said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

Jackson-Lee has been a major proponent in the city of Houston working to bring testing centers to under served communities.

"It starts with a lack of access to health care, which certainly we've suffered over the last couple of years," she said.

Jackson-Lee said it has created a domino affect. You have many minority communities where underlying conditions are more prevalent, but also not always treated, thus putting them at risk when it comes to COVID-19.

"The inability to get a test quickly or go to your own personal doctor to get a test, that makes it worse. We see a lot of people come through the line who couldn't get the test any place else. They were turned away or diagnosed with a headache," she said.

Some underprivileged communities have seen pop-up testing cites, like Kashmere Gardens.

But, right now Jackson-Lee said the goal is to get fixed centers to areas like Third Ward, South Park and Sunny Side.

"We also need to test inside of parts of northwest Houston, Mesa Road, Fifth Ward considered area," she said.

This weekend she will be working with the Knowles family to target bringing some pop-up testing cites to Cullen Middle School and Forest Brook Middle School.

SEE RELATED STORY: Beyoncé and mom Tina Knowles Lawson launch campaign to increase testing for minorities in Houston

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