Symptoms and Testing

 

FREE PUBLIC COVID-19 TESTING NOW AVAILABLE ​

Are you experiencing symptoms of COVID-19? Use the online assessment to pre-register for FREE testing for you or a loved one. Schedule a no-cost, drive-through COVID-19 test at a local Austin Public Health facility. ​

Please refer to our If You Are Sick page for additional information about the Austin Public Testing Enrollment Form.

     

Face Coverings

A significant percentage of individuals with the COVID-19 virus lack symptoms. Because an infected person can transmit the virus to others before showing any symptoms, the covering of a person’s nose and mouth when outside your home or residence is necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is consistent with the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Austin-Travis County Health Authority. 

Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus. Medical grade (N95) and surgical masks should be reserved and used only by medical professionals and first responders.

A printable PDF flyer on face coverings is available in English (PDF)Spanish (PDF), Simplified Chinese (PDF), Traditional Chinese (PDF), Vietnamese (PDF), Korean (PDF), Burmese (PDF), Urdu (PDF), Arabic (PDF).

Page content adapted from CDC

Requirements

All persons over the age of ten must wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief, when:  

  • Entering into or inside of any building open to the public 

  • Using public transportation, taxis, or ride shares  

  • Pumping gas 

  • Outside and six feet of social distancing cannot be consistently maintained between the person and individuals outside of their household 

Face coverings are not required when: 

  •  Riding in a personal vehicle 

  • Alone in a separate single space 

  • In the presence only of other members of their household or residence 

  • Doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance 

  • Eating   

Parents and Guardians of children under 10 shall be responsible for appropriately masking children when outside their residence.  

Tips

Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Tutorials

Find Three Mask Designs Below:

Quick Cut T-Shirt No-Sew Face Covering

Materials needed: T-shirt, scissors

No-sew face covering - image 1 of t-shirtNo-sew face covering - image 2 - cut t-shirtNo-sew face covering - image 3 - facemask on head

Bandana No-Sew Face Covering

Materials needed: Bandana (or square cloth), coffee filter, rubber bands (or hair ties), scissors

Bandana Facemask 1Bandana Facemask 2Bandana Facemask 3Bandana Facemask 4Bandana Facemask 5Bandana Facemask 6Bandana Facemask 7

Sewn Face Covering

Materials: Two 10”x6” rectangles of cotton fabric, two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties), needle and thread (or bobby pin), scissors, sewing machine

Sewn Face Covering 1Sewn Face Covering 2Sewn Face Covering 3Sewn Face Covering 4

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do you need to wear cloth face coverings? When should they be worn?

A: A significant percentage of individuals with the COVID-19 virus lack symptoms. Because an infected person can transmit the virus to others before showing any symptoms, the covering of a person’s nose and mouth when outside your home or residence is necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is consistent with the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Austin-Travis County Health Authority. 

All persons over the age of ten must wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief, when:  

  • Entering into or inside of any building open to the public 

  • Using public transportation, taxis, or ride shares  

  • Pumping gas 

  • Outside and six feet of social distancing cannot be consistently maintained between the person and individuals outside of their household 

Parents and Guardians of children under 10 shall be responsible for appropriately masking children when outside their residence.

Q: Who should not wear cloth face coverings?

A: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Q: Do I still need to stay at least 6 feet away from people if wearing a cloth face covering?

A: Yes. Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You still should stay at least 6 feet away from other people (physical distancing) outside of your household, practice frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others.

Q: What type of cloth face coverings should be worn?

A: Cloth face coverings can be made from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost, such as bandanas, dish towels, old t-shirts, and scarves. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders.

Q: Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly?

A: Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

Q: How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

A: A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering. Follow guidance from the CDC for more details on decontamination and reuse of respirators. 

Q: How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

A: Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

Q: What if I don't have a face covering?

A: We have step-by-step instructions in our Tutorials section that can help you make your own face covering.


Childcare and Schools

Childcare and Summer Camp Guidance for Parents/Guardians during COVID-19

Austin Public Health (APH) has the following recommendations for parents and guardians to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help keep childcare staff, children, and families safe.

Childcare guidance

This information is available in a printable PDF flyer in the following languages:

English (PDF), Spanish (PDF), Simplified Chinese (PDF), Traditional Chinese (PDF), Vietnamese (PDF), Korean (PDF), Burmese (PDF), Urdu (PDF), Arabic (PDF).

See also: 

Helpful tips about face coverings for children (from HealthyChildren.org)

Q: What does this mean for childcare facilities? Are these allowed to open for non-essential workers? Are there limits on the number of children and/or teachers?

Workforce Solutions Capital Area are no longer accepting applications for child care for essential workers. Residents who wish to apply for child care can complete a waitlist application form. If you have questions, please call Workforce Solutions at 512.549.4967 and select option 5, or by email at ccsaustin@wfscapitalarea.com.
 
Child care facilities are now reopened to all families, and the Texas Workforce Commission will reinstitute the requirement for parents receiving financial assistance to pay for a portion of their costs for child beginning on June 1, 2020. These costs may be waived, on a case by case basis, if parents continue to be unable to meet this financial obligation.

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

Universities/Colleges

Additional Resources


Prevention

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. 
  • 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. 

Click here for more information for those who are sick

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 should I do if I live with someone who has COVID-19?

You must protect those who are most vulnerable in your household. This includes  people who are older than 65 years and anyone, regardless of age, who have underlying medical conditions. They are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If your household includes even one vulnerable individual, then all household members should act as if they, themselves, are at higher risk.

Separate a household member who is sick:

  • It can be hard to separate a household member, especially loved ones, while this member is showing symptoms. Austin-Travis County Residents can call 311 if they need a place to quarantine.
  • Provide a separate bedroom and bathroom for the person who is sick, if possible. If you cannot provide a separate room and bathroom, try to separate them from other household members as much as possible. Keep people at higher risk separated from anyone who is sick.
  • If possible, have only one person in the household take care of the person who is sick. This caregiver should be someone who is not at higher risk for severe illness and should minimize contact with other people in the household.
  • If you need to share a bedroom with someone who is sick, make sure the room has good air flow with an open window or fan.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between beds if possible.
  • Place a physical divider (e.g., shower curtain, room screen divider, large cardboard poster board, quilt, or large bedspread) to separate the ill person’s bed.
  • If you need to share a bathroom with someone who is sick, the person who is sick should clean and disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in the bathroom after each use. If this is not possible, the person who does the cleaning should:
    • Open outside doors and windows before entering and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area.
    • Wait as long as possible before entering the room to clean and disinfect or to use the bathroom.
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?

A: 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?

A: You can still do daily essential 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 (only to provide or access an essential business or activity or a reopened service).  As of May 1, 2020, Governor’s Order GA-18 identifies additional businesses and services that people may leave their homes to access (reopened businesses). In addition to making trips related to essential businesses, activities and travel, individuals may also make trips to obtain or provide the reopened services listed in Governor Abbott’s order and to participate in permitted outdoor activity. 

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 COVID-19 virus s 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 see the dashboard on the homepage. For the latest on the number of confirmed cases in Texas visit Texas DSHS

Q: How does the COVID-19 virus 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.