Houston coronavirus tests: Who can get them, what they cost, where they are offered

Coronavirus testing centers are beginning to pop up around Houston. (Courtesy Legacy Community Health)
Coronavirus testing centers are beginning to pop up around Houston. (Courtesy Legacy Community Health)

Coronavirus testing centers are beginning to pop up around Houston. (Courtesy Legacy Community Health)

Updated: April 13, 2020 6:35 p.m.

With more testing sites increasing capacity and allowing those without symptoms to receive testing, local health officials have updated guidelines on who should get tested and how.

Original post: March 23, 2020

As more kits become available, here is how Houston area residents can receive coronavirus testing. In the coming weeks, more providers may begin offering testing and existing sites may expand capacity.

Who can get tested?

Testing criteria varies by site but most prioritize medical workers, first responders and the elderly or those with underlying conditions, recent travel or exposure to someone with a confirmed positive case. People presenting common symptoms such as fever and a dry cough are also prioritized.

Can people without symptoms get tested?

Those without symptoms who have not traveled to high-risk destinations recently or come in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will not be prioritized by those offering testing, Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said. Those who are asymptomatic could receive a false negative test result.

“The reason we're trying to focus on the people who have symptoms is that your ability to spread the virus parallels how much of the symptoms you have. Somebody who's asymptomatic may be able to be able to test positive but they're not likely shedding a lot of virus,” Persse said. “We want to identify the people who are spreading it a lot. ... Does that leave a gap? It sure does, but that's because we don't have a ubiquitous amount of testing available.”

Does the test cost anything?

Tests administered through Harris County and the City of Houston are free. Tests offered by private providers are paid through insurance or out-of-pocket payment. For payment questions, residents are encouraged to contact their primary care physicians or Houston and Harris County’s coronavirus hotlines.

City of Houston: 832-393-4220

Harris County: 832-927-7575

Fort Bend County: 281-633-7795

Where can I get a test?

There are two types of testing locations:

  1. On-site testing: Some tests are available at clinics, urgent care centers, freestanding emergency rooms and hospitals, which require insurance coverage or out-of-pocket payment. However, those with non-life-threatening symptoms who are seeking testing should call primary care physicians for a consultation first, Harris County Public Health officials recommend. This gives health care providers time to prepare to administer a test by wearing protective clothing and isolating a patient before they come in contact with others.

  2. Drive-thru and walk-up service at large-scale testing sites are now being offered by both private and public providers. Government-funded tests are free to those with and without insurance. Some test centers require pre-screening while others perform screening on site

United Memorial Medical Center

The testing site originally offered pre-screening online but switched to only in-person screening as of March 19.

Service: drive-thru

Cost: free

Pre-screening required? No


United Memorial Medical Center, 501 Tidwell Drive, Houston

Forest Brook High School, 7525 Tidwell Road, Houston

Sugar Land

18111 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land



Legacy Community Health

As federally qualified health centers, Legacy Community Health Clinics aim to provide low-cost care for underserved individuals.

Service: walk-up

Cost: On a sliding fee scale, no upfront costs

Pre-screening required? No

Legacy Bissonnet, 12667 Bissonnet Street, Houston


Legacy Fifth Ward, 3811 Lyons Ave., Houston


Legacy Mapleridge, 6550 Mapleridge Street, Houston


Legacy Montrose, 1415 California St., Houston


Legacy Northline, 5598-A1 North Freeway, Houston


Legacy San Jacinto, 4301 Garth Suite 400, Baytown


Legacy Santa Clara, 5616 Lawndale Street, Houston


Legacy Sharpstown, 6677 Rookin Street, Houston


Legacy Southwest, 6441 High Star Drive, Houston


Legacy Central Beaumont, 450 North 11th Street, Beaumont


Legacy Central Stagg, 3455 Stagg Drive, Beaumont



My Family Doctor

My Family Doctor is a private clinic offering testing for anyone exhibiting symptoms.

Service: drive-thru

Cost: free through insurance or $150 out-of-pocket, cash only

Pre-screening required? No

6430 Hillcroft Ave., Houston

Pre-screening required? No



Houston Health Department

Two sites are now open to any pre-screened individuals presenting symptoms. Pre-screened and approved test seekers are directed to the best available site.

Service: drive-thru

Cost: free

Pre-screening required? Yes



Harris County Department of Health

Two sites are open to any pre-screened individuals in the greater Houston area, including those outside of Harris County. Pre-screened and approved test seekers are directed to the best available site.

Service: drive-thru

Cost: free

Pre-screening required? Yes



UT Physicians

UT Physicians opened two drive-thru testing sites in Houston and Missouri City April 2 and plan to open more as additional supplies become available.

Service: drive-thru

Cost: Free through insurance, some out-of-pocket charges may apply

Pre-screening required? yes


Acres Homes, 7364 Antoine Drive, Houston

Missouri City

8810 Highway 6, Ste. 100, Missouri City



What happens when someone receives a positive result?

Those with manageable symptoms should stay home and avoid all person to person contact until symptoms abide, Persse said. Health care providers can monitor symptoms remotely and determine when a patient has returned to health. If conditions worsen, Persse said to seek medical advice and call ahead if going to an emergency department.

Editor's note: this post has been updated for clarity.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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