FEMA to assist Austin with COVID-19 testing

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will deploy a team to Austin to help with "overwhelming" demand for tests, APH officials said Jan. 21. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will deploy a team to Austin to help with "overwhelming" demand for tests, APH officials said Jan. 21. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will deploy a team to Austin to help with "overwhelming" demand for tests, APH officials said Jan. 21. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Austin will get help with COVID-19 testing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, public health officials announced a press conference on Jan. 21.

Janet Pichette, Austin Public Health chief epidemiologist, said she received notice during the conference that FEMA would send a team.

“Our testing operations have been surging recently,” Pichette said, adding that APH has taken several steps to address the strain on testing resources, including asking for the federal support.

She said APH had received over 22,000 positive cases within the week. APH staff is working from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on the weekends to process the cases, Pichette said.

Pichette said Jan. 21’s data alone would reflect more than 5,000 positive cases as staff works to get data into the system.


Some of Austin Public Health’s partners are reporting up to 40% of tests are positive, Pichette said.

Pichette said APH is also working to secure home tests that can be distributed to the community.

APH has not released information about what FEMA’s role will be. Much of the press conference focused on the uptick of pediatric cases.
By Darcy Sprague

Editor, Central and Southwest Austin

Darcy joined Community Impact Newspaper in Aug. 2021. Previously, she has covered local news from San Antonio to Dallas and reported nationally on education. Darcy graduated from Texas State University.