Austin, Texas - The Austin Public Testing Enrollment Form that allows the community to complete an online assessment for COVID-19 testing is now live on AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.
The new tool allows the public to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms without having to see a physician. The form will use an algorithm based assessment to evaluate whether or not an individual should be referred to a free testing site.
Completion of the online assessment will not guarantee referral to a testing site. Austin Public Health (APH) 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.
“This system allows us to identify areas that have high rates of infection and even identify particular locations to test asymptomatic people," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "This gives a lot of flexibility to modify our strategy as the pandemic unfolds here in Austin.”
How the Online Form and Portal Works:
- Individuals must create an account by providing an email address and filling out the form located at AustinTexas.gov/COVID19. Due to HIPAA requirements, everyone will need a separate email address.
- The form asks several questions to determine the patient’s eligibility for a test based on set criteria. A person can fill out the form for someone who cannot do it themselves. This information is HIPAA-protected.
- If an individual is approved for a test, the portal will allow them to schedule the location, date and time for their drive-thru testing appointment.
- Testing sites will include those operated by APH and public-private partnership sites across Austin-Travis County.
- The patient will receive a confirmation via phone, email or SMS with a QR code and instructions for the testing site within the same day.
- If the patient does not meet testing criteria, they will be able to revisit the portal at any time to try again (e.g. if their symptoms change the following days).
- Those who do not have computer access or internet access can call the nursing hotline at 512-972-5560 for assistance.
What to Expect at the Drive-Through 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.
- Individual test results will be sent to the individual by phone, email, or they will be able to access the online patient portal. Patients can expect results in 3-4 days.
- Patients must be in a vehicle when they arrive at a drive-thru testing site. Individuals will be turned away if they should arrive on site by walking, riding a bike, scooter or motorcycle.
- If a patient does not have access to a vehicle, they may call the nursing hotline at 512-972-5560 for alternative methods of getting tested.
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.
“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 City of Austin. “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.”
APH will have the ability to test up to 2,000 people per week -- with the ability to expand.
In addition to scheduling tests and monitoring confirmed positive cases, the City of Austin will send an automatic exposure questionnaire to residents who test positive, which will help gather details on how the virus might have spread, such as travel and visits to high-traffic areas.
The application will also send follow-up emails or text messages to check in on each resident’s well-being, so medical care can be escalated if necessary. For additional information and updates, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.