Gov. Greg Abbott Says Texas Is Ramping Up Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing

Mar 16, 2020

Texans should prepare for an exponential increase in the number of people who test positive for COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday. 

“People just need to prepare and not be shocked by the mathematical reality,” he said during a news conference in San Antonio.

Abbott announced the state is ramping up drive-thru testing capability, including in Austin, and public and private entities will be able to test more than 10,000 people per week. 

“By the end of this week, everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will be able to get a COVID-19 test,” the governor said. “The fact is not everyone needs one.”

”You will need a doctor’s order,” Abbott continued.  “You can’t just drive up like you would drive up to Whataburger and order a cheeseburger. You can’t drive up to this and order a COVID-19 test. You have to have some explanation.”

There are three priority groups for testing: health care providers and emergency first responders, seniors, and those “who have demonstrated symptoms that are more than just cold or flu,” Abbott said. 

Abbott also outlined other steps the state has taken to respond to the outbreak: 

  • Waived STAAR testing in light of school closures 
  • Restricted visitation to nursing homes, state-supported living centers, hospitals and day cares
  • Fast-tracked temporary licensing for medical professionals from out-of-state, to help with potential shortages
  • Received medical supplies like masks and gloves from the Strategic National Stockpile
  • Waived a state law that banned trucks from the alcohol industry from servicing grocery stores, to provide more capacity to deliver supplies

“We have a problem that’s born out of panic, not of a health care situation, where people are panicking and going to the store thinking they need to buy water and toilet paper and things like that, that they don’t need to be buying in mass quantities at this time,” Abbott said. 

The governor and other officials also stressed the importance of heeding the advice of health officials, including social distancing procedures. 

Watch Abbott's remarks here: