FREE TESTING NOW

Free Houston-area drive-thru coronavirus testing now available to those experiencing symptoms

Houstonians experiencing coronavirus symptoms can get tested for free starting this week. Photo by Getty Images

As local, state, and national government urges Americans to social distance and self-quarantine if ill, Houstonians are feeling the malaise of fear grip them as coronavirus testing questions still go unanswered.

Starting on Thursday, March 19, locals will have some respite, as Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, chair of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, announced that free testing is available here.

The free testing will be held at United Memorial Medical Center, located at 510 West Tidwell Rd.. Those suffering from potential coronavirus/COVID -19 symptoms can visit the center at these dates and times:

  • Thursday, March 19: 10 am - 8 pm
  • Friday, March 20: 8am -6 pm
  • Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27: 8 am - 8 pm

This comes as President Trump signed a Congressional bill on Wednesday, March 18, which allows people with symptoms of the coronavirus to be tested for free.

The Center for Disease Control says that reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The documented number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. now tops 9,500; experts are calling it exponential growth. Meanwhile, Houston has seen a spike in cases: As of Wednesday, March 18, some 19 new cases of coronavirus were announced by local and county officials, bringing the total number of cases to 62. That marks the highest spark of reported cases thus far.

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TMCx's 2020 cohort has been selected, and the program will begin virtually. Courtesy of TMCx

Now, more than ever, is time to think about the future of health care. Lucky for the Texas Medical Center, they've been doing that for years with their accelerator program, TMCx, which has just announced its latest cohort of health tech startups.

After redesigning the program, TMCx has been reimagined to better connect the startups and technology to TMC's member institutions. New this year was a bootcamp, in which 19 companies were invited to the TMC Innovation Institute in February to engage in programming with the TMCx team and TMC members.

"Bootcamp went off without a hitch," says Lance Black, associate director of TMCx, on a recent episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "And the companies all got something meaningful out of it and we were actually very surprised with the reaction and response we got from our member institutions."

The goal of the bootcamp was to connect the 19 potential cohort members to the TMC community to see which companies the health care institutions gravitated toward for potential relationships, such as a pilot program, clinical trial, or a joint development opportunity, for instance, Black says on the episode.

Black says his team took into consideration all of the feedback and selected nine startups to be a part of the cohort. At this point, with the COVID-19-caused travel issues and closures, face-to-face interaction in the program has been postponed, but the accelerator will start of virtually.

"Out of respect for our hospitals and member institutions, we want to delay the physical presence of the companies in Houston," Black says in the episode. "But that doesn't mean we're not able to call or virtually meet with the companies. There's a lot of pre-work we can do in order to prep the companies appropriately so that when they do have meetings face to face, they can put their best foot forward."

Here are the nine startups selected to be a part of the TMCx 2020 cohort:

  • San Francisco-based Atlas Health — connecting patients with payment resources
  • San Francisco-based DeepScribe — autonomous medical scribe
  • Los Angeles-based Elly Health — live healthier through positivity
  • San Francisco-based Ferrum Health — reduce preventable medical errors
  • Toronto-based HelpWear — clinical grade wearable heart monitor
  • London-based Lantum — total workforce solution for healthcare
  • Denver-based Manatee — connected, everyday therapy for kids
  • Copenhagen-based Radiobotics — automate analysis of routine medical X-rays
  • Evanston, Illinois-based Rhaeos — wearable shunt monitor (Rhaeos previously won fourth place in the 2019 Rice Business Plan Competition.)