Two local COVID-19 drive-up testing sites are facing overwhelming demand


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare will relocate two of its drive-up testing sites due to overwhelming demand.

It’s another trickle-down effect of the statewide spike in cases of COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus.

CommUnityCare leaders said drive-up testing in Pflugerville and Dove Springs was meant to accommodate 30-40 patients at one time, but recently started facing more than twice that number.

“We could have well over 100 that would show up,” said Yvonne Camarena, Chief Operating Officer.

CommUnityCare will continue to offer appointment testing at the two locations, and is still working to figure out a more suitable location for drive-up testing in Pflugerville and Dove Springs.

“We need to have an efficient process so that we can move folks through as quickly as we can,” said Camarena.

A news release said Central Health will be funding the relocation.

“We cannot continue to offer drive-up testing at two of our locations while ensuring the safety of the public and our staff,” CommUnityCare CEO Jaeson Fournier said.

But overwhelmed sites aren’t the only result of a testing boom. Officials say lab processing of test kits is backed up.

With turnaround times up to 10 days on the extreme end, they said it brings down the value of testing altogether.

As a result, CommUnityCare stopped asymptomatic testing this month and says those with the highest risk get priority testing.

Meanwhile, lab partner Quest Diagnostics tells us it is trying to process a workload of 115,000 tests per day.

“We have continued to experience surging demand for these services, with recent daily orders outpacing capacity,” said a Quest Diagnostics spokesperson in a statement to KXAN Thursday.

“As a result, while our average turnaround time continues to be one day for Priority 1 patients, it is now 3-5 days for all other populations.”

The company added that “Priority 1” patients include hospital patients, patients in acute care settings and symptomatic healthcare workers.

On Wednesday, KXAN reported that Austin Public Health and CommUnityCare are encouraging people with health insurance to find alternative options for COVID-19 testing to free up space for people without insurance or doctors.

CommUnityCare also announced that it can no longer test people without COVID-19 symptoms. That took effect at the beginning of the month.

“We simply don’t have the means to test everyone. If you have symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, act as if you tested positive,” said Dr. Schalscha. “Quarantine yourself and manage your symptoms as is appropriate.”

Employees test positive

CommUnityCare announced that 28 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

One cluster of five cases spread among employees at the Dove Springs testing site.

CommUnityCare says none of the cases were patient-to-employee transmission.

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