AUSTIN, Texas - Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers, in collaboration with Quest Diagnostics and Centene Corporation, will provide free COVID-19 testing for individuals with no symptoms of coronavirus to help slow the spread of the disease.
The efforts are part of a nationwide program to expand testing to asymptomatic people. An asymptomatic carrier is someone who has contracted the virus but isn't showing any symptoms of the disease.
“The prevalence of asymptomatic carriers is one of the biggest challenges we are currently facing during this pandemic – especially for at risk populations,” CommUnityCare Health Centers CEO Jaeson Fournier says in a news release. “A carrier of the disease who doesn’t know they have it is more likely to pass it to others without even knowing it.”
Quest Diagnostics will provide CommUnityCare with up to 1,000 Quest COVID-19 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test kits each week.
Based on testing data for the period of May 10 – 23, CommUnityCare says it has seen a significantly lower positivity rate in its clinics among asymptomatic patients with no exposure at the time of testing. Out of the 311 patients tested in the clinics, only 11 people tested positive (3.54%).
“Although it is too early to draw any conclusions because more data is needed, the increased testing is a pivotal step in monitoring and managing the outbreak in our community,” Dr. Alan Schalscha, chief medical officer of CommUnityCare said. “Knowing the status of anyone who comes in for testing helps us to identify positive cases and quarantine them so that the spread is contained."
Asymptomatic testing is offered at all CUC health center locations to any patient with an appointment.
In addition, CommUnityCare operates seven public testing sites: Hancock Center in Austin, Austin’s Colony/Hornsby Bend, Colony Park, Del Valle, Dove Springs, Manor, and Pflugerville. The testing sites are open on a rotating schedule, Monday through Saturday.
CUC patients and non-patients can go to any of the drive up testing sites and request a test whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.
For patients who have insurance, the insurance plan should cover the cost of the test with no out of pocket expense for patients. People who are uninsured will receive their tests at no charge. No appointment or referral is required at the drive-up locations, and no one arriving for testing will be asked for residency status.
For information about testing near you call CommUnityCare’s COVID-19 Hotline at 512-978-8775.
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