Demand for free COVID-19 tests spiked ahead of the New Year as the number of cases increased.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – The Houston Department of Health plans to increase the number of tests available at its major COVID-19 testing site in Minute Maid Park and open two more large sites next week, to meet the growing demand for COVID-19 Testing.

According to the Houston Department of Health, every day of this week, at least one of its COVID-19 testing sites has reached capacity as locations across the region are seeing demand for free COVID-19 testing. spike.

“We see that the need is here right now,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We anticipate greater demand next week as people prepare to go back to school. People are back from the holidays. People are celebrating this weekend and so we want to do the most. possible to enhance the availability of testing.”

On Thursday, at the large COVID-19 testing ground in Minute Maid Park, 1,018 tests were performed but more than 2,600 appointments were scheduled. Mayor Turner said there was a glitch in the appointment scheduling system and it was later fixed.

“At full capacity, the department’s network of affiliated sites can deliver more than 30,000 tests daily,” said Turner, “and the goal is to be able to deliver 35,000 (tests),” said Turner. ) next weekend”.

The Houston Department of Health also plans to open two more large testing sites next week to help meet growing demand.

Just over a week ago, a local gym, Muscleheadz Houston, noticed a need for more access to free COVID-19 tests.

“Many COVID sites are really busy, and we’re not that busy,” said Cliff Jackson, co-owner and founder of Cliff Jackson. “It’s all about convenience and for convenience you can use it right in Block Three. If you say the Muscleheadz building or the old Wolf’s Pawn Shop and everybody knows it’s there. We’ve got people walking up, I’ve had a couple of Ubers here. We had the idea of ​​having people, being able to drive in an instant. Now, you don’t even have to get out. from your car. You can check it out right here.”

Gym partnered with locally owned Mega LLC, which offers free on-site COVID-19 tests. At the gym alone this week, at least 200 tests were performed daily.

Jermecka Darling, co-owner of MeGa LLC, says the gym’s members are tested weekly, and its lab provides test results in 72 hours or less.

“I’ve had family members and friends die from COVID,” Darling said. “I-I just wanted to start something that we’re giving back to the community and making people aware of their condition so we can try to reduce the number of people who are really sick and those who are about to die. passed away.”

Testing at Muscleheadz Houston will begin again Monday, January 3, and people can call ahead of time at 832-895-9669 to take the test in the drive-up section, front of the building.

“Have fun but know your condition,” says Darling, “because knowing your condition is the best thing you can do to help protect you and your loved ones.”

City leaders, including the City of Houston Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Persse, urged people to get COVID-19 booster shots and get tested regularly to help slow the spread of schools. case of COVID-19.

“A lot of these people are getting infected and have only mild illness, which we believe has a lot to do with the number of people in the community who already have some degree of immunity from previous vaccinations,” he said. that and that’s why they don’t have to be hospitalized,” Dr. Persse said. “Also remember that hospitalization costs thousands of dollars. Vaccines like testing are free.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned the community about some pop-up testing locations that may not work reliably, especially those that are asking for payment.

Turner explains the criteria their partners must meet to open a Houston Health Department testing site.

“Every site, every lab has to be tested before we sign the contract,” Turner said. “If it’s legit, if they can service it and it’s reliable, then we’re happy. And if you’re willing to do that and you’re offering a free trial, that’s also a component. extra but if you’re trying to charge or ask people for their credit card, asking for cash isn’t zero for us Okay, so whoever we’re working with will have to stick to our principles, our standards and then that’s it.”

Houston Department of Health affiliated locations do not require an appointment, but appointments are recommended and available to book. Online or call 832-393-4220.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. Copyright Registered. Demand for free COVID-19 tests spiked ahead of the New Year as the number of cases increased.

Dais Johnston

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