Parishes host COVID-19 testing

October 13, 2020

Medical personnel from the Houston Health Department administer a coronavirus (COVID-19) test to an individual during drive-through testing in the parking lot of Assumption Catholic Church in Houston on Oct. 7. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Maybe a COVID test is like confession — it’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t take long, someone cares that you might be unwell and need help, and you know yourself better when you’re through.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, several parishes throughout the Archdiocese have stepped up to host pop-up COVID-19 testing in coordination with the Harris County Public Health and City of Houston Health departments.

At Assumption Catholic Church near Houston’s Northside community, cars lined up for COVID-19 testing when the parish parking lot became a local testing center. The parish was one of dozens of free COVID-19 testing sites around Galveston-Houston.

Reports suggest that COVID-19 has a disproportionately heavy impact on the Hispanic and Latino population. Data released in July by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Hispanic and Latino residents are three times as likely to be infected by the virus and are nearly twice as likely to die from it.

“I want to assure our Hispanic and Latino community that when you arrive at a county testing site to be tested, no one will ask about your immigration status or insurance. Our focus is exclusively on keeping everyone safe and healthy,” Judge Hidalgo said in a July statement. “Testing is not a treatment or a cure, but it is a key tool to help us understand the spread of the virus in our community and to help inform community members who feel they may have COVID-19.”

Some of the other parishes that have served as pop-up testing locations during the pandemic include St. Philip of Jesus Catholic Church, Holy Ghost Catholic Church, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Houston was scheduled to host a mobile testing site Oct. 10.

In May, the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association of Houston coordinated testing at Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church in Houston to serve vulnerable Vietnamese-speaking populations.

Parishes, in addition to Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, have also offered needed community services by providing relief through rent assistance and groceries while also distributing masks.

Continuing his series of talks on “healing the world,” Pope Francis said in his Sept. 30 general audience that Christ came to heal both the physical and “social” ailments that plague the world and gave the “necessary gifts to love and heal as He did, in order to take care of everyone without distinction of race, language or nation.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, the pope said, exposed the world’s “physical, social and spiritual vulnerabilities” and “laid bare the great inequality that reigns in the world: the inequality of opportunity, of goods, of access to health care, technology, education.”

Earlier that month, the pope also reminded the elderly that they need not be afraid of suffering because Christ is always there to help them carry that cross.

With God’s grace, their situation, which was made even more difficult and risky because of the COVID-19 pandemic and strict protocols for containing its spread, can be “an experience of purification,” he said. “We are not afraid of suffering; the Lord carries the cross with us.”

For current COVID-19 testing locations, visit Harris County Public Health, Houston Emergency Office Operations, and the Texas State Department of Health and Human Services.

– Catholic News Service contributed to this story.