Austin, TX Patch
AUSTIN, TX — Largely in light of large gatherings in downtown Austin that have taken place for at least a week to protest police brutality, local health officials urge participants to get tested for the coronavirus.
"Austin Public Health is encouraging individuals who have not been able to practice social distancing to sign up for a free COVID-19 test through the Public Enrollment Testing Form at austintexas.gov/COVID19," officials said on Friday. Starting the same day, the Public Testing Enrollment Form's requirements will be expanded to allow more individuals without symptoms to sign up for a testing date and time at APH's drive-thru site, officials added.
Individuals will still need to create an account at austintexas.gov/COVID19 and fill out the form before they can schedule a test, health officials noted.
"We have all seen images of people across the community participating in protests, attending concerts, and interacting with more and more people," Austin Public Health 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."
Austin Public Health continues to recommend that people adhere to proper hygiene habits —including washing hands often, avoid touching one's face and staying home when sick — to mitigate potential spread of the respiratory illness. Health officials added that people should continue to wear face coverings in public, 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," Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority, said in a prepared statement. "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."
Austin Public Health officials offered more insight into testing:
Public Testing Enrollment Form Update
Since the Public Testing Enrollment Form launched at the end of April, more than 14,600 assessments have been completed. As of June 4, nearly 8,500 individuals have been scheduled for and/or completed a test. Test results for 4,823 patients show 232 patients tested positive for COVID-19 (4.81% positive rate). This only includes data from the APH testing site.
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. 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, as well as guidance on how to monitor symptoms to determine if additional medical supervision is necessary. APH staff will follow-up with all individuals that test positive.
For more information and updates, visit www.austintexa