Demand for COVID-19 testing still high in Austin — along with positivity rates

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — COVID-19 at the Long Center in Austin continues Tuesday morning as many try to get their hands on one.

Those with Nomi Health have been on-site since last Monday. Initially, the healthcare company only had plans to stay through Wednesday of last week but decided to extend its time at the Long Center as long lines of cars filled Riverside Drive.

A couple of thousand tests, no more than 5,000, have been administered in the last week, according to Nomi Health’s CTO and co-founder Boe Hartman. He said just in the first day alone they tested nearly 500 people, of which 28% came back positive for COVID-19.

“We quickly turned and we turned this into a mega-site very quickly going from two nursing teams to three,” Hartman said.

Those at Austin Public Health say the department and the city’s regional partners including Nomi Health are reporting a 30% positivity rate. Another healthcare company, Curative, is seeing more positives.

“Just from our last report, 38% percent of the people we test are positive,” said David Grove, the healthcare company’s director of field operations for the state.

In the last two weeks, Curative has seen its numbers skyrocket going from around 2,500 daily tests in the Austin area to 12,000.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, never thought we would be doing this as long as we have,” Grove said.

A lot of the people are coming to get tested because they have symptoms that could either be allergies or COVID.

“A lot of it really is I have a cough, I have a runny nose. It looks like cedar fever so people are caught between do I have a cold, cedar fever or COVID,” explained Hartman. “That’s why testing is so important especially here in Central Texas where we are all dealing with cedar season.”

Both healthcare companies plan to continue to offer tests as long as needed. Nomi Health plans to remain open through Wednesday. They will reassess on that day if they need to extend their time at the Long Center. Those at Curative said during this surge they are not accepting walk-ups and are asking everyone to set up an appointment online.

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