AUSTIN (KXAN) — The commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Dr. John Hellerstedt, was on hand at the Governor’s mansion Monday morning to answer questions about the current situation for testing COVID-19 in the state.
The following is a short Q & A with Dr. Hellerstedt:
Q: How many people have been tested for the Coronavirus in Texas?
A: I can’t give you a solid number on exactly how many people have had the testing. I think the good news is that more laboratories will be capable of doing the testing. My understanding is the laboratory in Lubbock, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network, is now able to perform the testing. We hope that very soon we can bring the testing online here in Austin. That will be a great advance because having that testing, that specific testing available for COVID-19 will really aid in our ability to really contain the virus.
Q: Who will be able to perform the testing?
A: Generally, the idea would be a physician’s office would not qualify to receive the test kits at this point. The FDA is using a special kind of approval process. At first they really want to have very sophisticated laboratories that can do high complexity types of testing be the ones that might qualify for the initial testing.
Q: Are we going to get the test kits in Texas?
A: Yes, we have the test kits in Texas. What we have to do and we’ve been doing is any laboratory that gets them that’s part of CDC’s laboratory response network has to go through a validation process. To the point of reliability, we want to make sure when other labs are able to do this, they do it at the same high level of specificity and sensitivity and accuracy that is done at CDC.
KXAN Investigator Erin Cargile is working to get more answers from DSHS about how many people have been tested, and what the process and timeline looks like once the test kit is sent to a lab.
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