Lawmakers pen letter to FEMA urging more COVID-19 testing in Harris County


*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the letter was addressed to Vice President Mike Pence, not FEMA.

Three Democratic members of Congress are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ramp up testing in the state’s most populated region, Harris County.

In a letter penned on Thursday by Reps. Lizzie Fletcher, Slyvia Garcia, and Al Green, the Houston area lawmakers said that having only four testing sites in the Houston area region failed to meet the healthcare needs of a population of almost seven million people, a population they noted was greater than 26 other states.

“Even with FEMA-procured kits and supplies, the County can only conduct 1,000 tests each day because of the limited supplies,” read the letter. “In comparison to other large metro regions, these numbers are woefully inadequate to provide the testing needed to support public health in the region. The lack of testing means that the number of infected individuals is certainly being underestimated and those people could be unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.”

In Texas, a little more than 50,000 people have been tested, with 4,669 of those testing positive as of Friday. 

The lawmakers said they’ve heard from local officials on the ground that more resources for labs and an exponential increase in testing are needed. Harris County has reported 847 confirmed cases so far.

“Knowing that the rate of testing is still low, this number is likely much higher than that,” the letter read. 

Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images

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