City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Public testing enrollment via phone, improved mobile testing & isolation facility info.
Austin, Texas – The barrier of needing the internet to register for a COVID-19 assessment is now addressed with a nursing hotline to help with testing enrollment. Austin Public Health (APH) is making testing more accessible by rolling out mobile testing in neighborhoods where residents may have difficulty visiting a drive-thru testing location or CommunityCare clinic. People with COVID-19 symptoms or who are COVID-19 positive and do not have a place to safely isolate may utilize a free City of Austin Isolation Facility, ISOFAC (video links from pool reporters available below).
To reduce the technology barrier to accessing testing, APH has expanded public testing enrollment to its nursing hotline. Those wishing to complete the COVID-19 Public Testing Enrollment Form via phone should call 512-972-5560 to complete their assessment. Once they complete the assessment interview, the call taker will assist them in scheduling a test. The hours of the nurse hotline are 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday.
Online enrollment remains open at austintexas.gov/COVID-19.
“COVID-19 testing is a vital resource for residents of Austin-Travis County," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "By offering assessments over the phone and utilizing mobile testing, we are continuing to fight a virus that has proven to be nondiscriminatory based on access to the internet or a mode of transportation.”
In addition to expanding assessment capabilities, APH is making COVID-19 testing available to a broader section of the Austin-Travis County community by offering mobile testing with pop-up testing and home testing options.
APH is partnering with CommUnityCare to develop a joint map and process to ensure that mobile testing efforts are conducted in targeted zip codes that are historically underserved. Pop-up testing sites are being determined based on areas with high positivity rates, low testing rates, and community feedback for desired locations. Pop-up testing is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.
Pop-up testing locations, which will be visiting the same areas multiple times per week, will be shared at austintexas.gov/COVID-19 and on social media once available. Additionally, the pop-up testing locations will be listed as testing site options when individuals fill out the online assessment form or call the nursing hotline for enrollment.
Home testing units will allow medical professionals to administer tests in the patient’s home, helping to limit person-to-person spread by keeping potentially-infected residents quarantined at home.
Homebound or transportation-limited individuals can call the nursing hotline (512-972-5560) starting Thursday, June 18 to schedule a home test. Home testing is still in its pilot phase, and availability of this program may change in the future based on staff capacity and public demand.
Austin-Travis County has an isolation facility (ISOFAC) set up at a hotel for people who cannot safely self-isolate at home (e.g. tight living quarters with family members). This option is available to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as people who are under monitoring or investigation for the virus.
Individuals wishing to stay at the ISOFAC should call the intake line at 512-810-7554 to make arrangements. Residents may be required to provide proof of testing status if they did not enroll with APH for testing.
Individuals eligible to stay at the ISOFAC are not charged for the service. Patients who stay at an ISOFAC have their own free hotel room with food and WiFi.
Two pool reporters toured the ISOFAC today and have provided footage of an interview with staff in English and Spanish, as well as b-roll from the facility.
Public Testing Enrollment Numbers
Since the Public Testing Enrollment Form launched at the end of April, more than 33,000 assessments have been completed. As of June 16 at 9 a.m., nearly 17,100 individuals have been scheduled for and/or completed a test.
Test results for 8,264 individuals show 458 patients tested positive for COVID-19 (5.54% positive rate). This only includes data from the APH testing site.
For more information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.