July 1, 2020
It is important to ensure everyone in community has access to testing and medical care
Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) and Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers are encouraging people with health insurance to seek alternative COVID-19 testing resources to free up space for the uninsured and people without doctors.
Travis County has several other testing resources for COVID-19 open to the public. Individuals should contact their doctor and insurance company to determine the location to take the test. In the Austin-Travis County community, individuals can get a COVID-19 test at pharmacies, urgent care centers, and other private testing locations. Individuals with insurance should not be charged for the standard PCR COVID-19 test per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, both passed by Congress in March.
Last week, Austin Public Health, CommUnityCare, and Austin Regional Clinic conducted approximately 11,000 COVID-19 tests. All three organizations are working on long-term testing plans to ensure they can sustain the higher demand for testing.
“Testing in Travis County is not keeping up with demand,” said Jaeson Fournier, CommUnityCare CEO. “Our drive-up testing sites open at 6:30 a.m. However, on Monday, we were at capacity before we opened. We want to continue testing those with nowhere else to go, but we simply can’t test everyone.”
CommUnityCare Health Centers offer COVID-19 testing free to people without insurance. When testing capacity is reached for the day, the site must close. Tests are for established CommUnityCare patients, the uninsured and those without an established provider. While the tests are available without an appointment, it is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
APH strongly recommends self-isolating as soon as the decision is made to get a COVID-19 test. Additionally, those who are showing symptoms related to COVID-19 need to self-isolate as soon as possible. Based on APH’s testing limits, testing for those who have COVID-19 symptoms, who are at a higher risk of suffering from more severe symptoms or death, who are part of critical infrastructure or congregate settings, and vulnerable populations must be prioritized.
“We strongly recommend that those waiting to take a COVID-19 test, as well as those waiting for their test results, self-isolate in order to prevent the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority.
Dr. Escott added: “We understand that it may be difficult, with Austin Public Health and CommUnityCare sites at capacity every day, to get tested quickly. We are encouraging Austinites with health insurance to go through their doctors and utilize the tests provided at pharmacies and clinics around Austin to ensure that we have capacity for everyone to be tested quickly so we can slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Individuals can take the APH self-assessment to schedule testing at austintexas.gov/covid19. Those without access to the internet can call the APH nurse hotline for an assessment at 512-972-5560. The hotline provides service in over 200 languages. For more information about the City of Austin’s response to COVID-19, visit austintexas.gov/covid19.
For more information about CommUnityCare, visit communitycaretx.org. Individuals can also call the CommUnityCare COVID-19 hotline at 512-978-8775.