HOUSTON - Houston's leaders and health officials are now using a term we haven’t heard since the start of this pandemic: ‘it’s time to flatten the curve’ meaning COVID-19 cases are headed in the wrong direction and fast.
Dr. Persse with the Houston Health Department joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other health officials during a NYE joint press conference.
"The Omicron variant is extremely contagious, and we’re seeing the numbers go up rather dramatically," said Dr. Persse. "It is apparent that many, many people will become infected."
They reminded people about the seriousness of the COVID-19 transmission are we’re seeing in our communities.
Right now, the public is being urged to get tested on a regular basis to help control the spread.
On Friday Texas Governor Greg Abbott requested FEMA support to help establish more testing sites in six counties, including Harris County.
Mayor Turner and the Houston Health Department are also scrambling to make sure testing is readily available to everyone.
"Next week we will open two additional mega testing sites," said Mayor Turner.
Officials are expecting the demand for testing to reach new highs after NYE celebrations, so they’re working to decrease wait times for people and increase the number of daily tests that each site is capable of.
They also want people to know if one testing facility is at capacity the staff working that site can provide a list of other locations nearby with available appointments.
"We recognize the increase in demand, we want to do everything we can to provide people with good choices, places you can come where you don’t have to pay that are free." Mayor Turner said.
Doctors are also sending an important reminder that just like the delta variant and the variant before that, people infected are able to spread this virus 1 to 2-days before experiencing any symptoms.
"This is why it’s so important that people get tested regularly, not just once," said Dr. Persse. "So that if people are infected they can then turn around and isolate which means the one group they’re most likely to protect, is the same group you’re most likely to infect and that is your own family."
There will be testing sites open on New Year’s Day. You can find locations and make appointments for testing by visiting the Houston Health Department's website or by calling (832) 393-4220 to speak with a live agent.