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Austin Public Health urges protesters to sign up for free COVID-19 test

Health authorities say you do not need to have symptoms in order to be tested.

AUSTIN, Texas — In response to many protests taking place across the city over the past week, Austin Public Health (APH) is encouraging anyone who has attended a large gathering to sign up for a free COVID-19 test.

Starting Friday, the online form will be expanded to allow more people without symptoms to sign up for a testing date and time at APH's drive-thru site. You will still need to create an account and fill out a form before a test can be scheduled.

“We have all seen images of people across the community participating in protests, attending concerts and interacting with more and more people,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said. "We recognize the importance of the moment we are in right now. If you are engaging in protests, please take care of yourself and each other. If you have attended a gathering with more than 10 people, APH wants to ensure you and your family members remain healthy.”

The health authority continues to advise everyone to practice proper hygiene, including washing hands often, avoid touching your face and staying home when you're sick. Individuals are also encouraged to wear face coverings in public and practice social distancing when possible.

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“Public masking is helpful to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, but it is not a substitute for social distancing. Social distancing is impossible in many instances of large gatherings,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim Austin-Travis County health authority. “We want to make sure that all individuals involved in large gatherings over the past two weeks have access to free testing through Austin Public Health.”

You can sign up through the Public Enrollment Testing Form here.

Since the form was launched at the end of April, more than 14,600 assessments have been completed. As of June 4, about 8,500 people have been scheduled for and/or completed a test.

Test results for 4,823 patients show that 232 people tested positive for COVID-19 (4.81% positive rate). This only includes data from the APH testing site.

Here's what you can expect at the testing site:

  • When a patient arrives at the drive-thru testing location, they must remain in their vehicle.
  • Patients must show the technician the confirmation QR code along with any form of ID through their car window.
  • The technician at the testing site will then advise the patient on the next steps of the test.
  • The process from start to finish will take approximately 10 minutes.
  • Individuals will receive an email when their result is available, and they will be able to view that through the online patient portal. Patients can expect results in three to four days.
  • If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive an email message with instructions on how to mitigate additional community spread of the virus, as well as guidance on how to monitor symptoms to determine if additional medical supervision is necessary. APH staff will follow up with all individuals that test positive.

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