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

Houston

United Memorial Medical Center, 501 Tidwell Drive, Houston

Forest Brook High School, 7525 Tidwell Road, Houston

Sugar Land

18111 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land

281-618-8500

www.ummc.care

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

281-498-6100

Legacy Fifth Ward, 3811 Lyons Ave., Houston

832-548-5400

Legacy Mapleridge, 6550 Mapleridge Street, Houston

713-779-7200


Legacy Montrose, 1415 California St., Houston

832-548-5100

Legacy Northline, 5598-A1 North Freeway, Houston

281-628-2030

Legacy San Jacinto, 4301 Garth Suite 400, Baytown

281-420-8400

Legacy Santa Clara, 5616 Lawndale Street, Houston

713-921-0075

Legacy Sharpstown, 6677 Rookin Street, Houston


713-921-0075

Legacy Southwest, 6441 High Star Drive, Houston

713-779-7200

Legacy Central Beaumont, 450 North 11th Street, Beaumont

409-242-2577

Legacy Central Stagg, 3455 Stagg Drive, Beaumont

409-833-8850

www.legacycommunityhealth.org

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

832-709-1515

www.covid19drivethru.com

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

832-393-4220

www.houstonemergency.org/covid19

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

832-927-7575

www.checkforcorona.com

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

Houston

Acres Homes, 7364 Antoine Drive, Houston

Missouri City

8810 Highway 6, Ste. 100, Missouri City

713-486-2619

www.UPhysicians.com/COVID19Testing

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.


MOST RECENT

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

Texas Medical Center reports only 4% uptick in ICU bed use despite continued COVID-19 case increases

Compared to 1,350 total intensive care units in use June 30, Texas Medical Center has seen only a slight uptick in occupancies since then, with 1,394 reported July 9.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Harris County. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 907 cases, 12 deaths confirmed July 9

The 12 deaths—the largest single day total in Harris County since the pandemic began—brings the total COVID-19 death count in the county to 423.

Firefighters, police officers, solid waste collectors and bus drivers in Houston have all been affected by coronavirus exposure. (Courtesy Pexel)
From solid waste collectors to firefighters, Houston’s public workers facing strain from coronavirus exposures

Houston’s core city services are being strained by coronavirus exposures, city leaders report.

The Texas Republican State Convention was set to be held July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Two new lawsuits aim to reverse GOP convention cancellation

The lawsuits come the day after the contract for hosting the event was terminated.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

All main lanes, both north and southbound, on I-610 West Loop at I-69 will be closed from 9 p.m. July 10 through 5 a.m. July 13. (Community Impact staff)
I-610 West Loop main lanes closed through weekend

All main lanes, both north and southbound, of the I-610 West Loop at the I-69 Southwest Freeway will be closed from 9 p.m. July 10 through 5 a.m. July 13.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

Craft Burger is one of 15 restaurants, catering companies and food trucks participating in this year's Black Restaurant Week. (Courtesy Craft Burger)
Houston's fifth annual Black Restaurant Week returns July 10-19

Participating patrons can play Black Restaurant Week Bingo and vote for their favorite participating eateries for a chance to win prizes such as restaurant gift cards, culinary treats and cash prizes.

The city of Houston confirmed only 204 new cases July 8, down from over 1,000 July 7, a discrepancy that officials attributed to a "computer system slowdown." (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 701 new cases confirmed as hospitalizations hold steady July 8

The city of Houston confirmed only 204 new cases July 8—down from over 1,000 July 7—a discrepancy that officials attributed to a "computer system slowdown."

Six-thousand delegates were expected to attend the State of Texas Republican Party convention July 16-18. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Houston First Corp. cancels Texas GOP convention under guidance from Mayor Turner

The decision came one week before 6,000 delegates were expected to attend the event at the George R. Brown Convention Center

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.