(Austin) – Due to rising temperatures and rising testing demand, Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers announced it is shifting the operating hours at all COVID-19 testing sites to 6:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The early-morning start will also help accommodate those who can only get tested outside of standard business hours.
Hancock, Pflugerville and William Cannon locations will start the new testing schedule on Mon., June 22, while Colony Park, Hornsby Bend, Manor and Del Valle locations will shift to the new hours beginning Mon., June 29.
“By shifting testing hours, we can maintain current testing levels and keep staff safer as they work outside in the heat of summer in full protective gear for hours at a time,” said CommUnityCare CEO Jaeson Fournier. “The situation is constantly evolving, so we are staying flexible and adapting our efforts to ensure the safety of our staff while maintaining access to COVID-19 testing now and for the foreseeable future.”
CommUnityCare Health Centers is seeing a sharp uptick in testing demand, anticipating a record-high 3,000 tests this week at seven sites around Travis County, either on or east of IH 35. Last week, CommUnityCare tested 2,433 people and about one in three Latinos tested positive (32.76%) for COVID-19 compared to 25.75% for all races and ethnicities. The positivity rate for African Americans increased from 8.2% to 11.11%. To date, CommUnityCare has provided more than 13,100 COVID-19 tests, with 63% of tests provided to Latinos.
“With support and guidance from the community and our partners, we are ramping up our efforts to reach people and neighborhoods that are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Mike Geeslin, President and CEO of Central Health. “From outreach to local businesses, public service announcements on the radio and online, to picking up the phone and calling our MAP (Medical Access Program) members directly, we are doing everything we can to make sure the people we serve – people with low income and without insurance – know where and how to get tested. If they test positive, we must ensure they know how to get appropriate care and health coverage.”
As testing sites continue to be at – or over – maximum capacity, CommUnityCare is working to expand operations into the evening hours and is working with Austin Public Health to add more testing locations in historically underserved areas and ZIP codes with high positivity rates.
CommUnityCare is also reminding residents that its testing sites are for both their insured and uninsured patients and for people without health insurance that do not have an established doctor.
CommUnityCare encourages those with a non-CommUnityCare doctor and those with insurance to seek testing through their provider or Austin Public Health if possible, leaving testing slots for people who do not have those options.
“Our primary focus continues to be providing access to COVID-19 testing for our patients and for community members that have no other testing options – specifically those without a doctor and those without insurance,” said Fournier. “We appreciate that people across Central Texas see CommUnityCare as a trusted resource during this time of uncertainty, but our testing sites are intended for those who have nowhere else to go.”
The full schedule of testing locations and hours is available online at communitycaretx.org/coronavirus-updates.
People with questions about testing should call the CommUnityCare COVID-19 Hotline at 512-978-8775.