Austin public health officials say a recent drop in coronavirus cases after the city experienced a spike this month could be attributed to the outdated equipment the labs are using to report data.
“I am surprised to hear that the way we are getting infection test results is by fax. It is like a third world technology. Most young people don’t even know what a fax machine is anymore,” said the commissioner. Travis County, Brigid. She to he told CBS Austin. “This incredibly wasteful and stupid process of putting it on fax paper and faxing it to someone so they then have to manually enter it into a computer.”
Mark Escott, Austin Public Health Provisional Health Authority, told CBS Austin that the agency spends time manually entering thousands of results into its database every day.
“It is not uncommon for us to have a week to 10 days between the time a person is tested and when their case is entered into the system so that they can be called,” Escott said.
State law requires laboratories to report digital data, although not all comply. Travis County officials are studying compliance measures, and Shea asked Escott to give them the names of the labs that still use fax machines.
This week Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) Asked residents to stay home as the state grapples with an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The governor also indicated that he has no plans to re-impose restrictions on companies.