Blankets, pillows and phones: installed in hundreds of cars in the queue, some Texans wait for long hours to reach a testing centre of the COVID-19 in Houston, the new epicentre of the pandemic in the southern United States.
“I am here since 3 o’clock in the morning,” says the AFP Maria Solis. The 22-year old woman came to make a new test after being isolated for 14 days when she had had a first positive result.
In two weeks, the situation in Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, has dramatically deteriorated. And the scenes in front of the hospital United Memorial Medical Center Tidwell, in a residential area north of the city, bear witness to this.
“When I came the first time, there was no queue”, she said to AFP. “I was just in entrance with perhaps three cars, but now the number has increased, it’s scary”.
The epidemic in Texas takes a turn “suddenly and very dangerous,” admitted Greg Abbott, the republican governor of the State.
The figure that everyone looks at is that of the positivity, the rate of people infected with the virus among the people tested. It reached 14%, representing a doubling compared to the beginning of the month of June.
The concern is such that the city of Houston (6 million people) is sometimes compared to New York at the beginning of the crisis of the COVID-19.
Big pick-up or city cars, the vehicle is engulfed in the white tents pitched on the parking lot of the United Memorial Medical Center Tidwell.
Some came with family, and more than one has dozed off during the long wait.
Medical student of 24 years old, Fernando Galvez has joined the long queue at 4am in the morning. At the end of seven hours of waiting, he hopes this time to be able to get a test, after several failed attempts the past four days, in spite of his symptoms: sore throat, tight chest and cough.
“The first time I tried, I arrived at about 6: 30, then it was impossible. And I’m back”, he explains.
He has worked as a volunteer in a clinic and asks if he was able to catch the coronavirus at this time.
Like him, Raquel Smith, 48 years old, works in the medical field and hope to be tested for the first time. His employers have asked him to get tested.
She arrived before 4 o’clock in the morning, ” she said to the AFP.
“I work in the first line, then it is recommended at this time, because of the strong increase of the case here”.
More than 125 000 people died of the COVID-19 in the United States, the country most grief-stricken of the world by the pandemic.
For some in Houston, this new surge in the number of cases observed in the South and West of the United States should serve as a reminder.
Leaning on his mobile phone, Pedro Balderas, 39, has chained him also the endless hours behind the wheel. Leaders, he said, must make it mandatory for the mask, in which the port is debated with passion in the country. By doing that, “I think they would help us a lot.”