July 2, 2020
*Hours reflected in this press release may change. Please refer to https://communitycaretx.org/coronavirus-updates/ for the latest information about testing provided by CommUnityCare.
(Austin, Texas) – Due to heavy testing demand and limited space and staffing resources, Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers is relocating drive-up COVID-19 testing sites in Dove Springs and Pflugerville, and changing criteria for who can get tested at all of its sites.
“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. “These locations were designed as walk-up testing sites at clinics capable of testing 30 – 40 patients a day, but for the last several weeks the demand has far exceeded the intended capacity. As a result, the locations can’t safely handle that volume of people and vehicular traffic, and we made the very difficult decision to immediately close these sites and look for alternative locations.”
Effective immediately, drive-up testing is no longer offered at CommUnityCare William Cannon, 6801 South IH 35, Austin, and Pflugerville Health Center, 15822 Foothills Farms Loop, Pflugerville. However, CommUnityCare patients can still get a COVID-19 test with an appointment at both locations, and Austin Public Health (APH) will soon open a COVID-19 testing site for Southeast Austin residents. Individuals will have to complete an assessment online in order to be tested at this location.
Central Health is funding the relocation and operations for relocated and new Dove Springs and Pflugerville testing sites, which includes securing supplies like tents and refrigerators, and recruiting, hiring, and paying staff. The locations haven’t yet been determined.
Additionally, CommUnityCare drive-up testing locations will be closed for the upcoming holiday weekend – from Friday, July 3 through Saturday, July 4, resuming normal operations Monday, July 6. Testing has not been available on Sunday at any of CommUnityCare’s testing locations.
“Our testing staff has been working outside, often in extreme heat, in full personal protective equipment since March and they’re exhausted – just like many other frontline health care workers,” CommUnityCare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alan Schalscha said. “We will take the holiday weekend to recharge, re-energize, and plan how we can continue to serve our community.”
Central Health, CommUnityCare, and APH are also working together to coordinate a long-term, sustainable testing plan to increase access to testing for people who have no other place to turn for a coronavirus test – the uninsured and people without a doctor.
“As always, we’ll work closely with CommUnityCare, elected officials, and community leaders to determine the best locations,” Central Health Board Chair Sherri Greenberg said. “My colleagues on the Central Health Board of Managers are committed to helping CommUnityCare stand up new testing sites as quickly as possible. People who may have no other testing options are counting on us – whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or not, we can’t let them down.”
Given the recent sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, health officials are urging the community to stay home and avoid public celebrations and social gatherings. They’re also encouraging those who suspect they have COVID-19 or have been exposed to assume they are positive and take all necessary precautions even if they can’t get a test. Those with severe or worsening symptoms should call their doctor, go to the emergency room, or call 9-1-1.
“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. Quarantine yourself and manage your symptoms as is appropriate,” Dr. Schalscha said. “Staying home is the best way to limit exposure along with wearing a mask, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from others.”
CommUnityCare also announced that it can no longer test people without COVID-19 symptoms. Starting July 1, CommUnityCare is only testing people with symptoms, known exposure to the virus, and underlying health conditions.
For detailed information on CommUnityCare COVID-19 testing sites and hours, visit communitycaretx.org or call CommUnityCare’s COVID-19 hotline at 512-978-8775.