City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Meeting the goals, which were outlined in a testing plan released in May, highlights expansion of community testing
Austin, Texas – Community testing data, which includes Austin Public Health (APH), state partners, hospitals, public and private clinics, and private physicians, indicates that we surpassed APH testing goals in Austin-Travis County for May, June, and July with 39,609 tests completed in May; 50,910 tests completed in June; and 69,243 tests completed in July.
The testing goals were released in May in an APH memo including the “Plan for COVID-19 Testing and Related Epidemiology Response Activities for Calendar Year 2020,” which was also submitted to the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services in compliance with House Resolution 266 (HR 266).
The plan set a goal of completing 10,000 tests in May; 40,000 tests in June; and 60,000 tests in July through a combined effort that includes APH, state partners, hospitals, public and private clinics, and private physicians. The goal for the remainder of the year is 60,000 tests per month.
“Our response to COVID-19 has been a community effort,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said. “Not only has it been a community effort in ensuring we slow the spread by practicing proper preventative actions, but also in expanding testing with the help of our local hospitals, clinics, and physicians. Adequate testing capacity is another factor in helping us identify those with COVID-19 and stop the viral transmission.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, APH has expanded testing operations beyond a single drive-thru site to include three neighborhood testing sites, in-home testing, and pop-up testing sites.
Through the testing goals, APH testing sites completed 7,984 tests in May; 11,315 tests in June; and 20,538 tests in July. The remainder of the tests were completed with assistance from our community partners.
Now, APH – through the Public Testing Enrollment Form – has the capacity to test approximately 6,500 people every week, including the sites located in Williamson and Bastrop counties.
“We must continue to work together as a community,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “While we have expanded testing, we must continue to prioritize those with symptoms, exposures, and in vulnerable populations. Make sure you continue to stay home when possible, wear a face covering and social distance in public, and practice good hygiene.”
As part of continuous collaboration to ensure that APH is testing enough individuals, the criteria individuals need to meet on the Public Testing Enrollment Form assessment can vary. This variation is due to changes in testing capacity, the number of people requesting a test, and the percent of individuals that test positive for COVID-19.
APH encourages people who have insurance to utilize other testing sites available through their provider so we can be the safety net for those without insurance or a primary care provider. A map showing public and private testing locations in Austin-Travis County can be accessed at https://arcg.is/PzPza.
Lab Processing Time Decrease
As the demand for testing has decreased, the turnaround time for test results has dropped to two days as of Aug. 20. Additionally, APH is working on contracts with additional labs to diversify and maintain a lower turnaround time for testing, even if the number of tests performed by APH increases.
For more information and updates, visit www.austintexas.gov/covid19.