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Coronavirus testing capabilities are still limited in Texas

Public health officials are trying to conserve the number of coronavirus test kits to save them for people who really need them.

AUSTIN, Texas — As coronavirus concerns grow, only certain conditions meet the requirements for testing.

Austin Public Health officials are trying to conserve the limited number of coronavirus tests used to save them for people who really need them.

“We need the public to understand that we simply cannot test everybody at this stage,” Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, said at a news conference earlier this week.

For about 80% of coronavirus patients, infections are mild.

“We don't want everybody taking this test – it's totally unnecessary,” President Donald Trump said speaking from the Rose Garden on Friday afternoon.

Austin Public Health sent a letter to Travis County health providers, asking them to focus on testing people with a clinical or public health impact.

“We at Austin Public Health understand your frustration with regards to testing for COVID-19,” the letter said. “Please be aware that we are doing everything we can to enroll your patients and coordinate them for testing. Unfortunately, Texas is still limited in its capability to test and we will continue to need to prioritize testing based upon clinical and public health priorities.”

For people under the age of 50, the death risk from coronavirus is only about 2/10 of a percent.

“Those who are under the age of 50 who are otherwise healthy, they are going to be last on the list because we don't have a treatment, we don't have a vaccination to offer, and we expect they are going to have a mild course,” Escott said.


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On Friday, a new drive-thru testing site opened in San Antonio, after Gov. Greg Abbott announced a similar site will open in Austin soon. Other sites are also planned in Dallas and Houston.

“Our local leaders and partners know their communities best and I appreciate their swift action in providing these facilities,” Abbott said at a Friday news conference.

President Trump told reporters on Friday Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Target will soon offer parts of their parking lots for coronavirus testing as well.

APH told healthcare providers it hopes to have increased testing capabilities soon, which is when plans will change for how to register patients for testing.

Coronavirus symptoms are different from flu and allergy symptoms. Coronavirus includes a fever, cough and shortness of breath up to two weeks after being exposed.


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