COVID-19 Screening and Testing

April 09, 2020

COVID-19 Screening and Testing

You can only get a test for COVID-19 after talking with your primary care provider (PCP) or the local health department.  If you do not have a primary care provider (PCP), you can call 2-1-1 (Option 6), Harris Health Ask-My-Nurse at 713-634-1100, or your local health department to ask about how you can be tested.  Testing is only available through orders from a doctor or the health department.

Screening Can Be Performed Online:

Harris County Residents or 832-927-7575

City of Houston Residents or 832-393-4220

There are some private testing sites in the area.  Call them directly or go to their website for information BEFORE arriving.  Private sites MIGHT NOT BE FREE like the health department sites.  Only people with signs or symptoms should contact a public or private testing site by phone or online.


Q: Who should I call if I think I have coronavirus?
A: Call your primary care provider for guidance.

Q: Who should I call if I do not have a primary care provider?
A : 3 Possible Options

  1. Call 2-1-1, Select Option 6
  2. Harris Health Ask-My-Nurse
    Every day 9 am-7 pm
  3. Contact your local health department (information in this document) 

Q: I cannot get in touch with my primary care provider, but I am still worried about symptoms.  Should I go to a drive-through testing center?

A: There are LIMITED testing sites.  Only people who meet criteria (screening) will be tested.  Call or go to the website of the health department or the testing site FIRST.

Q: Do ambulances (EMTs and paramedics) have COVID-19 testing kits?

A: No, you should contact your primary care provider or the health department for testing.

Q: Should I go to the emergency room for COVID-19 testing?

A: The CDC recommends that people with mild to moderate symptoms stay home.  911 ambulances are available for life-threatening medical emergencies.  Emergency rooms are open for emergencies, too.  The best way to get tested is to call your primary care provider (PCP) or the health department.

Q: If I have questions about COVID-19, should I call 911?

A: 911 call-takers and dispatchers are usually NOT able to answer questions about COVID-19 or give medical advice.  If you call 911, this will cause emergency services to be activated.  If you do not need fire, police, or ambulance for an emergency, please contact your primary care provider (PCP) or the health department.

Q: If I test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), will I get a special medicine or treatment?

A: There are no medicines to treat the virus itself.  People who test positive will be directed to self-quarantine and care for themselves at home, if possible.Q: Should everybody wear a mask to protect him/herself?
A: The CDC recommends the use of a cloth face covering to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (instructions included above).  Surgical masks and N-95 masks should be reserved for health care workers. 

Q: Does the flu shot protect me from COVID-19?
A: No, but the flu shot does help people from getting the flu.  It is recommended by the CDC for people 6 months of age and older in most cases.  Talk with your health care provider.

Q: Does the pneumonia shot protect from COVID-19?

A: No, but the pneumonia shot does help some people from getting pneumonia.  Talk with your health care provider.

Q: Is there a medicine that will prevent or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A: No, there is currently no specific medicine that will prevent or treat the virus itself.  Over-the-counter pain and fever medications are options to treat symptoms.

Q: Do antibiotics help to prevent or treat the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A: No, antibiotics only work on bacteria, not viruses.

Q: Does COVID-19 affect people of all ages?

A: People of all ages can get coronavirus (COVID-19).  Older people and those with certain medical problems (like heart diseases, lung diseases, diabetes, or weakened immune systems) appear to have more chance of getting very sick from the virus.  ALL people should take steps to protect themselves, including good hand washing and sanitizing.

Q: Can gargling with mouthwash protect you from coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A:No, there is no evidence that shows using mouthwash protects you from the virus.

Q: Am I more likely to get coronavirus from a person of a certain race or ethnicity?

A: No.  You should use social distancing and general respectful behavior with all people.