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There may be a 10-day delay between when an infected person is tested and when an investigator begins tracing their contacts, Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday.

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Reporting delays, fax machines and a reopened state have made contact tracing efforts more difficult and less effective, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said yesterday.


"Unfortunately, still, in public health here—and across the state and the country—this is a very manual and archaic process of getting information out," Dr. Escott said, speaking to Travis County commissioners. "And we're struggling with that."

Austin Public Health receives COVID-19 test results via fax. Its team of investigators—which is growing by around 10 members a week to meet demand—then must sort through the positives and negatives, which tally more than 1,000 daily.

Some results may include the contact information for the person tested, but not all do, which means investigators then have to call the doctor's office and lab to try to gather more information.

This whole process takes time.

"Right now, it's not uncommon to have a week to 10 days between [when] a person is tested and when their case is entered into the system so they can be called," Dr. Escott said. "They're probably not infectious anymore."

While the state has required labs to report COVID-19 test results digitally, not all have made the switch.

Commissioner Brigid Shea was "shocked" and "horrified" to learn test results are being sent to APH via fax.

"It's like a third-world technology," she said. "Most young people don't even know what a fax machine is anymore."

Another challenge is that Texas has more or less reopened.

"When we look at the efficacy of contract tracing in other countries where it worked, that contact tracing happened when the places generally were shut down, when people weren't moving around," Dr. Escott said.

APH, however, is trying to contact trace at the same time as hundreds of new cases are being reported each day.

"It works in some circumstances," Dr. Escott said. "But right now, across the state of Texas, we're getting reports from jurisdictions that they simply cannot trace everybody."

As a result, Dr. Escott expects a shift in strategy in the coming weeks, but he did not mention what form that shift may take.

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The long-awaited day is here; Austin FC takes the field with LAFC. (Austonia)

It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!

Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.

5 p.m: Kickoff!

It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!

4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home

Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.

4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium

Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!

~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds

With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.

~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA

(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)

Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.

Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.

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View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.

We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.

8:20 a.m: LA bound

Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.

A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.

As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.


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Directions: Drop sliced strawberries into glass container filled with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Let sit in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Once desired flavor is reached remove fruit. Enjoy!

Years before the city of Austin went Verde, thousands of the city's soccer fans formed a supporters' group—MLS in Austin—for a team that didn't even exist yet.

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