Houston Health Department

Houston Health Department leading antibody testing survey to better understand the spread of COVID-19 in Houston


September 2, 2020

HOUSTON - The Houston Health Department is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rice University, and Baylor College of Medicine to conduct an antibody testing survey to understand how many people in the city were previously infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The survey will identify people infected in the past with COVID-19 by the presence of antibodies, proteins the body’s immune system makes to fight infections. Antibody testing does not replace oral or nasal swab viral testing that looks for current infection.

Teams consisting of Houston Health Department staff and Houston Fire Department paramedics will visit randomly selected homes across Houston, asking household members to answer survey questions and provide a blood sample. Phase one is set to take place Sept. 8-24, with phase two starting in the winter of 2021.

“If we knock on your door, I strongly encourage you and your loved ones to participate in this important survey,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The data you provide by participating will help inform strategies to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”

As COVID-19 cases in Houston soared in July, the health department launched its Better. Together. campaign, encouraging Houstonians to work together to stop the spread of the virus, particularly in hard-hit, vulnerable communities. During the first month of the campaign, Houston’s COVID-19 positivity rate dropped from 20% to 7.8%

“The Houston Health Department’s Better. Together. public health education campaign reminds Houstonians we must work together to overcome the virus and this antibody study is an opportunity to help,” said Mayor Turner.

Only homes approached by the teams are eligible to participate, and participation is voluntary. The teams will be identifiable by their Better. Together. shirts.

Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research is providing communication and outreach support for the survey.

For more information about the antibody survey, visit houstonemergency.org/covid19.