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City opens new Covid-19 testing portal

Friday, April 24, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

The city has launched a new tool to screen the public for Covid-19 symptoms that serves as an alternative to a physician referral for testing. According to the city, “The form will use an algorithm-based assessment to evaluate whether or not an individual should be referred to a free testing site.” Those who wish to use the tool will be asked to provide an email address and answer a series of questions on the city’s Covid-19 website or by calling 512-972-5560. Those approved for tests can then schedule drive-thru testing appointments, though a press release from the city clarifies, “Completion of the online assessment will not guarantee referral to a testing site. Austin Public Health will continue to prioritize health care workers and first responders on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as people at higher risk for developing severe symptoms. Testing continues to be by appointment-only and tests at the APH testing sites will be at no cost to the individual.” APH has the ability to test 2,000 people per week, though that capacity is expected to increase. “The city of Austin has worked with a number of stakeholders across our community, to make sure we have equitable and efficient testing,” said Dr. Chris Hewitt, assistant medical director for the city. “We have it down to about eight minutes per person because we wanted to eliminate that time you spend sitting in line in your car and sitting on the site.” More information on the city’s testing portal and drive-thru testing can be found here. The questionnaire to determine whether you qualify for a test is online here.

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