AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the omicron variant rips through Central Texas, health leaders say roughly 4 out of every 10 COVID-19 tests are coming back positive right now.
Around 5,000 new COVID-19 cases will be reported on the City of Austin’s dashboard Friday, that’s roughly 3,500 more than Austin has seen daily in the previous couple weeks. Janet Pichette, Austin Public Health’s chief epidemiologist, said they streamlined their data to dashboard process which has helped clear some of the backlog and accounts for that jump.
“It’s a reminder that we need to make sure that we’re doing all those things that we’ve said to mitigate disease transmission risks,” Pichette said.
Meanwhile, health leaders say they’ve continued to see a high demand for testing and a steady increase in the number of cases being reported.
“I want to remain optimistic and think that within the next week or two we will begin to see a decline but things are pretty steady right now,” Pichette said. Those case numbers do not include the people who have tested positive with a home test and did not report the results to APH.
To deal with the uptick in the number of COVID-19 tests being requested in the community, Austin Public Health says they’re meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Friday to discuss bringing in additional resources.
“We are also working on other contracts to expand our testing operations in the community as well as we have requested and are in the process of securing contracts to purchase rapid antigen tests,” Pichette said.
Health leaders also address complaints that there are no City of Austin testing sites open after regular work hours.
“We don’t want you to go to work. We want you to come straight to our testing site,” Adrienne Sturrup, APH’s interim director, said.
Health leaders are asking people to mask in public, regardless of vaccination status, get vaccinated and boosted and stay home if they’re sick.
“Our community’s in the driver’s seat,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said. “I know we can do it, we’ve done it before.”
If you need a COVID-19 test, check out KXAN’s updated list.