The surge in Austin's COVID-19 cases is overwhelming the health care system trying to fight community spread of the virus.
"We can't get people tested right now," said Dr. James Marroquin, an internal medicine doctor practicing in Austin. "To me, that's a scandal."
In the last week or so, Dr. Marroquin said he and his colleagues have had to ration tests, prioritizing health care workers, the elderly and immunosuppressed patients.
The concern among private doctors comes at the same time that more people are being encouraged to seek them out. With demand high, Austin Public Health is restricting access to its free COVID-19 testing service and encouraging those with health insurance to get tested at their private doctors.
Testing system overwhelmed
Clinical labs across the country are at or nearing capacity, leading to delayed test results.
In a recent statement, American Clinical Laboratory Association President Julie Khani said: "[T]he anticipated demand for COVID-19 testing over the coming weeks will likely exceed members' testing capacities. This significant increase in demand could extend turnaround times for test results."
Quest Diagnostics, one of the country's largest private labs, said that increased demand is driving up turnaround times. Clinical Pathology Labs issued a similar statement Thursday, and CVS Pharmacy tweeted on Friday that patients may experience delays when seeking COVID-19 testing because of high demand.
Tom Banning, CEO of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, said that larger facilities may not have the same issues with testing as smaller practices. But everyone is struggling with delayed results.
"I would say it's a system issue," Banning said. "We didn't design our lab system to do mass COVID testing."
Many patients recovered before they get results
Widespread testing helps contain spread of the virus when people who test positive self-isolate, and when contact tracing efforts can warn anyone they've been in contact with.
But now, by the time patients receive their test results, they may no longer be contagious or able to prevent spreading the disease to others. "If it's too long of a turnaround, it really loses its value," Dr. Marroquin said.
You may never know you had it
Many COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, or patients experience minimal symptoms. But current patients having more severe symptoms that match the COVID-19 profile may not be able to be tested in a timely manner.
"To me that's maybe a little more reason to just be extra careful," Dr. Marroquin said, "because if you do get symptoms you might not even be able to know if you have it."
- Antibody tests show up in Austin, but not all are FDA approved ... ›
- Why contact tracing doesn't work in Austin - austonia ›
- Austin prepares field hospital, changes strategy amid surge - austonia ›
- Officials will debut new COVID-19 testing enrollment system to ... ›
- Austin to stop giving COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic - austonia ›
- Overwhelmed labs, delayed test results impact Austin’s efforts to contain virus - austonia ›
- Austin officials say COVID-19 testing remains a challenge - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health to expand testing amid plateau - austonia ›
- Austin, Texas do not include rapid COVID tests in counts - austonia ›
An Austin man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stalking and sending threatening letters and emails to pop star Taylor Swift's former record label.
Marisela Maddox is no stranger to the nanny game, having hired at-home caregivers in the past to help with her two children, ages 5 and 10.
- Austin parents weigh return to school without clear guidance ... ›
- Child care facilities can start up now, Abbott says; bars, bingo halls ... ›
- Day care centers face money woes even as Texas parents go back to ›
- Texas reinstates COVID-19 safety rules for child care centers ... ›
As some children gear up to head back to school, many parents are wondering what to expect next with their child's learning.
For Ashley McGuire, mother of 6-year-old Mason, in-person schooling can't come quickly enough. The online process, she said, is lonely and has been frustrating for everyone in the family.
- Austin teens face unique challenges in high school decision - austonia ›
- Austin sees uptick in new COVID cases among 10-19 age group ... ›
- Flu season: Austin health officials are focused on vaccines - austonia ›
Former University of Texas men's tennis coach Michael Center is in a Texas halfway house and set to be released in October after serving six months in federal prison for falsely designating a wealthy West Coast student as a Longhorns recruit.
College athletes get a win with Election Day off every year, effort led by local NBA champ Chris Bosh
In a historic win for college athletes and voter advocates, led by former NBA champion and Austinite Chris Bosh, the NCAA voted this week to require an annual November Election Day "off day" for Division 1 student athletes to vote or volunteer in election activities if they choose.
The Austin Trail of Lights—an annual event that transforms Zilker Park into a winter wonderland, featuring more than 60 displays and two million lights—will take place this holiday season, despite the pandemic.
- Reeling from canceled festivals, Austin's small businesses find new ... ›
- ACL cancels 2020 event, will offer refunds - austonia ›
- Devastated Austin tourism may take years to recover - austonia ›
- Nearly 100 Austin festivals canceled, postponed or at risk as ... ›
- Mass events in Austin likely canceled through December, Escott says ›