Symptoms and Testing Information
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, please visit our “Information For Those Who Are Sick” webpage.
Q: How is COVID-19 testing conducted in Austin-Travis County?
A: The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) lab in Austin is now capable of completing COVID-19 testing, along with private labs. If you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, avoid the risk of spread at clinics and hospitals by using telehealth (see a list of telehealth services and services for uninsured here) or calling your health provider. Your physician will determine if there is another plausible diagnosis with similar symptoms (i.e. influenza).
For suspected COVID-19 cases, your doctor will fill out a form. Austin Public Health will use this information to assess risk and criteria to determine whether a test is appropriate. You will be notified on whether you qualify for a test and will be provided with a test-site location. Until then, stay at home and self-distance.
Q: Are some people at higher risk for severe infection?
A: Yes. Similar to influenza, those who are over the age of 65 and/or have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, chronic lung disease, and diabetes are at greater risk for severe disease and complications from COVID-19.
Austin Public Health has developed guidance for older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions.
Q: Are childcare facilities being impacted by orders?
A: Childcare facilities may continue to operate if they serve employees that work for essential businesses, in essential governmental functions, or in critical infrastructure. Childcare facilities must comply with social distancing requirements by keeping the same groups of 10 or fewer intact, and keep those same children in the same group, with the same caregiver and not change the children from group to group or between groups.
Childcare facilities seeking business relations questions should refer to Information Businesses Page.
Q: Are schools shut down?
A: Educational institutions that facilitate distance learning are considered essential businesses under the Stay Home-Work Safe Order. More information on schools can be found on district websites:
K-12 School Districts
City of Austin - "Stay At Home Order Information"
Texas Health and Human Services - Child Care Provider Survey for Operations Impacted by COVID-19
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Protect Your Family
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Children and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Schools, Workplaces & Community Locations
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Guidance for Institutes of Higher Education
Q: What are steps to help prevent the spread of illnesses such as flu and COVID-19 if you are sick?
A: Austin Public Health has developed guidance to help prevent spread from those who are sick to others.
Stay home except to get medical care.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor. If you are uninsured or do not have a primary care doctor, call the COVID-19 Hotline at 512-978-8775 for guidance.
Monitor your symptoms.
Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
Avoid sharing personal items.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
Clean your hands often.
Clean all high-touch surfaces every day.
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low.
Q: How can I protect myself?
A: You can protect yourself by taking these steps:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Q: What is social distancing?
A: The City of Austin defines social distancing as maintaining and controlling a minimum of six feet of separation between people other than during incidental and momentary passing, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands) regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces and not touching hands.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social distancing as a strategy used to help prevent a widespread influenza pandemic.
Social distancing is not social isolation. Physical distancing is a critical part of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
On March 24th, the Mayor of the City of Austin passed a Stay at Home- Work Safe Order, requiring members of Austin to stay at home. This is NOT a mandatory lockdown, and essential activities and work are still permitted. For those who are leaving their homes, social distancing is highly recommended to flatten the curve.
Q. How do you practice social distancing?
Avoid public spaces and unnecessary social gatherings
Avoid physical contact such as hugs, handshakes and kisses
Avoid large numbers of people or crowds
Work from home if possible
Avoid unnecessary use of public transport
Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet
Q. Why is social distancing necessary?
According to CDC, the virus can spread person to person under the following circumstances:
Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
Through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes in the air. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Social distancing is important during this time because as a contagious disease, COVID-19 can be breathed in through the air if someone coughs. The virus can also spread through contaminated surfaces.
Q. Can you do any activities while practicing social distancing?
You can still do daily activities such as walking your dog, picking up medicine, leave your home to buy groceries, go for a run, visit your doctor or travel to and from work (if designated as an essential business).
If outside, please remember to remain at least 6 feet apart from another person. Running or walking in groups is not practicing social distancing.
Facts About COVID-19
Q: What is a novel coronavirus?
A: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing COVID-19 is not that same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19 in Austin?
A: The overall risk of COVID-19 in Texas to the general public is elevated at this time due to the growing evidence of person-to-person spread in the United States.
Austin Public Health has received multiple cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Austin-Travis County. For updated case counts visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19. For the latest on the number of confirmed cases in Texas visit Texas DSHS.
Q: How does the virus causing COVID-19, spread?
A: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It is NOT airborne but is thought to spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Person-to-person spread means people who have been infected with the virus most likely came in contact with someone they know (I.e. spouse, roommate, child). Austin/Travis County has evidence of person-to-person spread.
Q: What is community spread?
A: Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.