CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi residents are reacting with mixed emotions to the mixed bag of news regarding COVID-19, the coronavirus from China that it is now confirmed to be in Texas.
Governor Greg Abbott announced a confirmed case of the virus in Fort Bend County during a news conference Thursday. Moments later, Harris County announced it had two cases.
But the news from the news conference wasn't all bad. Abbott also announced the activation of the Laboratory Response Network, a group of 10 laboratories across the state that -- when fully operational -- will be able to conduct 125 COVID-19 tests every day. It was made possible by Congress approving an $8.3 billion spending package.
"One thing that I anticipate it paying for is to increase even more the number of patients who are going to be able to be tested, the number of test kits that will be available, so that (the tests) will be able to be spread further, wider, and more prolifically," he said.
Labs in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and Lubbock went online today. By the end of the month, four more will be up and running in Harlingen, San Antonio, Tyler, and here in Corpus Christi, at the local health district.
"I think it's a great idea," Corpus Christi resident Robert Reece said. "It's proactive, and the more that we can get out in front of this thing (the better)."
There is a drawback. The spokesperson for the Nueces County Medical Society said the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District told her it would only be able to run five tests per day.
"We do need to limit the testing, I would say, to persons that we think are likely to have had an exposure (to COVID-19) and are ill," medical society spokesperson Dr. Mary Dale Peterson said.
That small number of tests doesn't sit well with some people.
"It don't sound good, because it's like, a lot of people, and just five per day?" Jose Aarona, who works in Corpus Christi, said. "It's not good."
But Dr. Peterson said if a patient needs to be tested, there are other ways of getting it done.
"If our labs are at capacity, then they'd be forwarded on to the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in Atlanta, which is what we're currently doing right now," Dr. Peterson said.