Taking classes online because schools are closed by the coronavirus is tough in a city like Houston where nearly 140,000 households do not have a computer and more than 200,000 do not have internet access, Mayor Sylvester Turner said at his Monday press conference.
"We have a digital divide right here in our own city," Turner said.
Enter Houston Rocket Russell Westbrook who with his Why Not? Foundation is providing 650 computers for students and their families in collaboration with Comp-U-Dopt, a charity distributing computers to the underserved.
Skyping in from California, Westbrook spoke about the importance of students being able to continue their educations from home.
There was some other good news to start the week. The city's two testing centers will be ramping up with each of them able to handle up to 500 COVID-19 tests a day. Previously they were limited to 250 at each site. Perhaps more importantly, anyone can come in for a test now. A person does not have to have a fever or a cough.
As has been discovered, there are many asymptomatic cases and in order for Houston and its mayor to understand the extent of the problem, there needs to be an accurate count of how far the virus has spread — not a false accounting limited by restrictions that may not be valid.
For the same reason, hospitals and testing labs need to report their data as soon as possible, not save it up as regards both admittance statistics and deaths, said Dr. David Persse, health authority for the city.
"To our laboratories I want to remind you how incredibly important it is that you report that data to us immediately and do not cohort so that we get 600 results in one day. That is not helpful. We need that information right away on a day to day basis. All your results need to be brought to us every single day.
"And similarly with the hospitals, those individuals who die, we need to know about that as soon as possible. We don't need to find out about it two weeks later.," said Persse. "Because important decisions are being made based on that information, it's very important that it be as accurate as possible. So the mayor can make the wisest decision that he can."
The mayor also reported that there have been two more deaths in the last day bringing the total number of deaths in the city due to COVID-19 to 18. The latest casualties were a Hispanic woman in her 90s and an African American man in his 70s, both with underlying health conditions according to the Houston Health Department. The city's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 2,239.
As of Monday afternoon, Harris County was reporting 28 COVID-19 related deaths in the unincorporated areas of the county, with a total of 1,508 confirmed cases.
Updated: 5:35 p.m. County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced that two new mobile units from Harris County Public Health will offer drive-thru testing for the coronavirus, which will add up to 200 tests per day to what the county is able to do now.
"Testing sites will be allocated to the precincts from Monday through Saturday, spending three days in two precincts, and three days in the other two precincts," according to a press release making the announcement.
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