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Austin Public Health Officials Are Urging More Residents To Get Tested For The Coronavirus

A sign in front of the reopened Revelry Kitchen + Bar says, "No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service."
Gabriel C. Pérez
Bars in Texas were allowed to reopen Friday with certain restrictions in place.

Austin Public Health said it can administer 1,750 COVID-19 tests per day at its drive-thru testing site, but only 200 to 350 people are being tested each day.

At a press briefing Wednesday, interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said the agency doesn't want to test everyone at this point, because it wants to use public resources responsibly, but it does want to test more people.

“You see some communities who are testing everybody that comes and there’s a bit of a diminishing return,” he said. Taxpayer dollars are used to "perform the test and if the return on that investment is very, very small, those resources might be better utilized to care for people or to utilize for different public health measures.”

Escott said APH is working on targeted outreach for marginalized groups like the black and Latino communities to ensure they have adequate access to testing. 

Health officials said they are also monitoring hotspots at construction sites and food service areas now that more businesses in Texas are reopening.

“It is critical that all of us across the community – regardless of what your occupation is or what your race or ethnic background is – that we continue to use caution, so we can at least maintain that plateau and hopefully see a decline in cases,” Escott said. 

Austin residents can fill out an online assessment form to be considered for a free drive-thru test. 

This story has been updated. 

Got a tip? Email Dani Matias at Follow her on Twitter @Matias7Dani

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Dani Matias is a producer and host for KUT's Morning Edition. Before moving to Austin, she wrote breaking news for NPR and witnessed the Jonas Brothers’ Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C.
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