AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - Walgreens in Texas will begin offering drive-through testing for COVID-19, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday.
Walgreens announced they will be expanding their drive-through testing to 15 sites in seven states. Those states are Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennesse, and Texas.
The 15 locations are being finalized in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and are planned for select hot spot markets with escalating rates of COVID-19 cases. Walgreens plans to be able to test up to 3,000 people per day across these additional sites, which are expected to be activated beginning later this week.
Abbott said the testing process at these locations will take 15 minutes.
Along those lines, the governor said that since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, about 96,000 tests have been administered. He added that about 9,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I want to stress that these numbers are lower than they would be if Texans hadn’t been practicing the social distancing guidelines as well as they have,” Abbott said.
According to the numbers the Texas Department of State Health Services released at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, 96,258 COVID-19 tests have been administered so far in the state of Texas. A total of 9,353 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and of that number, 1,491 have been hospitalized. To date, 177 people have died as a result of COVID-19 infections or associated complications.
The five counties in the Lone Star State with the highest number of COVID-19 cases include Harris County (2,146), Dallas County (1,261), Travis County (554), Tarrant County (517), and Bexar County (503). In the East Texas area, there are a total of 265 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine deaths.
Abbott said he talked to the Harris County judge recently about what kind of help the county needed from the state. He said Harris County Judge Lina Hildago told him they needed more personal protection equipment and testing kits. The governor added that the state sent about 125,000 masks to the county and more are on the way.
The governor stressed that if people are working to provide essential services, the best thing they can do to protect their families, friends, neighbors, and others is to stay home and avoid going out as much as possible.
During the press conference, Abbott also addressed the unemployment situation in Texas. He explained that the Texas Workforce Commission has been overwhelmed by the number of people seeking unemployment benefits. He said the state agency experienced the largest spike in phone calls in its history on March 27, adding that the TWC received 1.7 million calls on that day.
Abbott said that in response, the TWC has increased its staff. In addition, 250 staff members of Texas senators and state representatives have volunteered to help process unemployment claims as well.
The governor also spoke about how Texans and Texas-based companies are pulling together during the COVID-19 crisis. He explained that a company called Prestige Ameritech in Tarrant County has added an extra shift that includes Nationa Guard members to ramp up its production of face masks and shields. Reyes Automotive, a subsidiary of Toyota is also helping with the production of face shields.