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High demand across the country has led to slower turnaround times for COVID-19 test kits.

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."

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway