First COVID-19 testing site run by Austin-Travis County opens


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first Austin-Travis County run COVID-19 testing site opened on Saturday. This comes as the city’s number of cases reaches 62.

It’s one of 11 sites opened thanks to partnerships between Austin Public Health and St. David’s, Ascension Seton, UT Health Austin (Dell Medical School) and Baylor Scott & White.

This site will prioritize people referred there in Austin-Travis County and who have an appointment. Those who don’t have a referral will be informed about the best route to go based on their case.

“We have to prioritize those who are at higher risk, hospitalized, our health care workers, first responders and those who work in critical infrastructure to ensure that they have access because it’s important for the public health and safety of our City,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for Austin-Travis County.

Hours will vary for the site by day, and the city would not outright disclose its location to protect patient privacy. However, on Saturday, they conducted about 50 tests between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The city of Austin release said though they’ve received 1,000 COVID-19 testing kits from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there’s still a gap between how many tests are available and the number of people seeking a test.

The Texas Department of State Health Services directs health authorities to prioritize people with a specific combination of symptoms combined with a history of travel, close contact with confirmed cases or underlying health conditions.

The city provided this guide for potential patients:

  1. If you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), avoid the risk of spread at clinics and hospitals by using telehealth virtual visits (see a list of services here) or calling your health provider.
  2. Your physician will determine if there is another plausible diagnosis with similar symptoms (i.e. influenza). People with no insurance and no established provider experiencing Coronavirus-like symptoms should call CommUnityCare at 512-978-8775. CommUnityCare will triage people over the phone and send them to the appropriate location.
  3. For suspected COVID-19 cases, your doctor will fill out a form. Austin Public Health will use this information to assess risk and criteria to determine whether a test is appropriate. You will be notified on whether you qualify for a test and will be provided with a test-site location. Until then, stay at home and self-distance.

Austin-Travis County EMS medics, Austin Police officers and Austin Fire Department firefighters are helping with logistics at those test collection points.

Austin Public Health wants to emphasize the importance of practicing good personal hygiene, gathering with other people only if it is essential and checking on elderly friends and family who might need some help during this time.

If people feel sick they should stay home.

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