FOX 7 Austin
AUSTIN, Texas - The City of Austin is encouraging anyone who has recently participated in a large gathering to sign up for a free COVID-19 test. The city says individuals will not need to have symptoms to get tested.
The announcement comes in response to multiple large gatherings that have happened across the community. People have been gathering in large crowds to demand justice for George Floyd, Mike Ramos, and other victims of police violence.
Austin Public Health is asking those who were not able to practice social distancing to sign for the test through the Public Enrollment Testing From.
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The city says that starting on June 5 the enrollment form's requirements will be expanded to allow for more individuals not showing symptoms to sign up for a testing date and time at an APH drive-thru testing site.
“We have all seen images of people across the community participating in protests, attending concerts, and interacting with more and more people,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said. "We recognize the importance of the moment we are in right now. If you are engaging in protests, please take care of yourself and each other. If you have attended a gathering with more than 10 people, APH wants to ensure you and your family members remain healthy.”
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The city also says that individuals will still need to create an account and fill out a form before they can schedule a test.
What to expect at the drive-thru testing site:
When a patient arrives at the drive-thru testing location, they must remain in their vehicle. Patients must show the technician the confirmation QR code along with any form of ID through their car window. The technician at the testing site will then advise the patient on the next steps of the test. The process from start to finish will take approximately 10 minutes. Individuals will receive an email when their result is available, and they will be able to view that through the online patient portal.Patients can expect results in 3-4 days.
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APH recommends that everyone should still practice proper hygiene such as washing your hands frequently. They also say that people should continue to cover their faces and practice social distancing when possible.
“Public masking is helpful to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, but it is not a substitute for social distancing. Social distancing is impossible in many instances of large gatherings,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We want to make sure that all individuals involved in large gatherings over the past two weeks have access to free testing through Austin Public Health.”
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Since the program launched at the end of April this year, more than 14,600 assessments have been completed, the city says. As of June 4, almost 8,400 individuals have been scheduled or completed a test. Tests results from 4,832 patients show that 232 have tested positive for COVID-19, a 4.81% positive rate. This data only includes APH testing.
If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive an email message with instructions on how to mitigate additional community spread of the virus. APH will also give guidance on how to monitor symptoms to determine if additional medical supervision is necessary.
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The strategy to address viral exposure from the protests will be similar to how the state responds to a recent outbreak from meatpacking plants in Amarillo.
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