The pop up COVID testing clinic at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive, has been extended through the week after Monday saw long-lines, high demand and a high amount of positive tests.
After a weekend of gathering for most, the site opened up as a pop-up COVID testing site, attracting hundreds in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The clinic, hosted by Nomi Health, will now be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday and will double its testing staff to meet demand.
Patients looking to get vaccinated began lining up more than three hours before the site opened Tuesday morning. The results for antigen tests become available via text in about 15 minutes, whereas PCR tests take 24-48 hours.
Monday afternoon saw a long line of cars stretching up, down and around a roundabout on Riverside Drive with many reporting waiting for hours. According to a spokesperson for Nomi Health reported by KXAN, 28% of the tests on Monday came back positive. Of the positive patients, 79% were vaccinated and 92% had symptoms.
According to an Austin Public Health spokesperson, the COVID testing site administered around 500 tests Monday and expects to test 565 people Tuesday, though the final count will end up being higher due to walk-ups.
The spread of omicron and holiday rush led to more people testing than average, according to APH, but scheduled tests fall in line with testing from last week. The Travis County Exposition Center administered an average of 505 tests each day it was open last week and the George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center saw an average of 447 per both days it was open.
“We're excited to see people's interest in doing all they can to protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.
A visit to the site around 2 p.m. Monday showed that the site was clearly backed up, with people even stepping out of their cars to help direct traffic and prevent people from cutting in line. The scene left plenty of honking and commotion in its wake, though the line didn’t move more than a car or two per minute.
APH health authorities met last week, discussing lowering risk-based guideline thresholds out of caution in the event of a holiday surge, with Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes urging residents to get tested before and after gathering with their families.
Both Austin’s positivity rate (8.9%) and community transmission rate (173.5 seven-day average) have continued to climb over the past few weeks.
The testing site will continue to take walk-up appointments Tuesday and opens at 8 a.m., so arrive as early as possible to get through.
There are other neighborhood testing alternatives: Travis County Exposition Center is open Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–2 p.m. and the George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center stays open Tuesday–Saturday 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Urgent cares, pharmacies and hospitals also conduct COVID-19 testing.
This story was last updated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
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What would Austin be without its City Hall, Central Library or iconic 360 Bridge?
For 50 years, Austin developer Hensel Phelps has shaped Austin with city-focused landmark developments across the metro, gracing the top spot on Austin Business Journal's best general contracting list for years in a row.
In 1972, the company broke ground for the first time in Austin with the Town Lake, or Mopac Bridge project, connecting the developing areas of West Austin to the rest of the city.
Hensel Phelps broke ground for its first project, the Mopac Bridge, in 1972. (Texas Freeway)
The Town Lake Bridge was one of eight available bridges in Austin at the time of construction. (Hensel Phelps)
Since then, it's headed several projects, including:
- The Pennybacker (360) Bridge: After the Town Lake Bridge success, the company set out to build the world's second cable-supported bridge. Newcomers and native Austinites alike take to the nearby 360 Bridge Overlook Trail to see sunset views of the cliffside, copper-colored landmark.
- Dell Diamond Baseball Stadium: Since it opened in 2000, the Round Rock Express, the metro's Triple-A- Minor League baseball team, has held countless games at this 85-acre, 11,000+ capacity stadium.
- Samsung Fab 2 Chip Fabrication Facility: When Hensel Phelps helped Samsung with its second semiconductor project in the area in 2007, the grand opening ceremony was commemorated with the University of Texas Longhorn Band, UT Cheerleaders, pop singer LeAnn Rimes and a bald eagle to boot.
- Austin Central Public Library: With six floors, a rooftop garden and plenty of window views of downtown, Austin's Central Library project quickly became a central hub for the city when it opened in 2017.
- Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium: The company has had a hand in all major expansions of the Texas Longhorns' longtime football stadium.
Austin's new Central Public Library first opened in 2017. (Hensel Phelps)
Through dozens of projects dotted throughout the region, Hensel Phelps' Southwest district manager and Vice President Brad Winans said the company's focus has always been the public sector.
"That's where we think we support and develop the city, from truly grassroots, truly local support and involvement in the community," Winans said. "Our job is to develop things that truly support the city, not specific to one business."
Austin's City Hall was constructed with native Texas limestone and built with sustainability in mind. (Hensel Phelps)
A University of Texas graduate and 30-year employee, Winans said that the company's 2004 City Hall project felt most impactful to the community. The building, built from both native limestone and recycled materials, embraced sustainability and high-tech qualities, including solar panels in its garage, while maintaining a classic Texan identity.
"It's a very hard industry to be a part of, but it's also very rewarding," Winans said. "For me, City Hall means a lot because the back in the day, we called it 'The Jewel,' and so it's great to be part of that."
The company has constructed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in the past and will continue to help expand the airport. (Hensel Phelps)
With 50 years under its belt, Winans said the company will continue to work on the "endless" development opportunities coming to the city, from expansion of the rapidly-growing Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to projects in the tech sector.
"Everybody seems to want to come to Austin," Winans said. "It'd be nice if things did kind of spread out a little bit, but right now there's still a very eager push to develop in and around Central Texas and I think (Hensel Phelps) will be a major part of that."
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Let out your inner fangirl at 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Take My Hand” World Tour at the Moody Amphitheater, featuring Pale Waves as the opening act. Resale tickets start at $42.50.Doors at 6 p.m. Friday | 📍Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park, 1401 Trinity St.
Discover journeys through time, space and cosmology with Professor Brian Cox’s new show, “Horizons,” as he breaks down the origins of life and the universe with his co-host Robin Ince. Tickets start at $54.Doors at 7 p.m. Friday | 📍The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.
Catch this five-piece band play alongside rock duo ‘68 on their “Farewell” tour, as you rock out in Mohawk’s indoor/outdoor venue. Resale tickets start at $35.7 p.m. Saturday | 📍 Mohawk Austin, 912 Red River St.
Two Texas teams are going head-to-head in the capital city while neck and neck in the standings. Austin FC is currently third in the western conference and FC Dallas ranks fourth, so put on your Verde! Tickets start at $60 each.8 p.m. Saturday | 📍 Q2 Stadium, 10414 McKalla Pl.
Learn how to make your own specialty cocktails from drinks and spirits from around the world during an afternoon at The Roosevelt Room. Tickets for the Master Class start at $75 per person.12-2:30 p.m. Sunday | 📍The Roosevelt Room, 307 W 5th St.
The iconic rapper is making a stop in Austin with special guests Reveil, Skiifall and Playthatboizay on his “Melt My Eyez Tour.” Tickets start at $32.50.
7 p.m. Sunday | 📍Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater, 801 Red River St.