An affiliate of Travis County’s taxpayer-funded hospital district will provide free COVID-19 testing for people who have shown no signs or symptoms of coronavirus. Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers announced this week it will be offering around 1000 tests a week through kits provided by Quest Diagnostics.
“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 said. “A carrier of the disease who doesn’t know they have it is more likely to pass it to others without even knowing it. One of our strongest weapons in combating the coronavirus pandemic is increased testing and our ability to do this is in large part due to the partnership with Quest and Centene Corporation.”
However, despite Fournier’s comments, this week the World Health Organization made the announcement that asymptomatic people account for a very small portion of transmissions, and pose a “very rare” threat to public health. That is a sharp turn from previous warnings from health officials around the world who called for widespread mask-wearing to prevent asymptomatic spread.
Based on testing data for the period of May 10 – 23, Central Health says CommUnityCare has seen a significantly lower positivity rates in its clinics among asymptomatic patients. Out of the 311 patients tested in the clinics, only 11 people tested positive.
“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. Most importantly we want to inform and educate our community of their status so that they may take actions to protect their families or others who they may come in contact with on a daily basis.”
For those who have insurance, the insurance plan should cover the cost of the test with no out of pocket expense. Uninsured patients will receive their test at no charge.
No appointment or referral is required at the drive up locations.