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3.0(4 reviews)
7900 Fannin St, Houston, TX 770547900 Fannin St
OpenFri 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Mon 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Tue 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Wed 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Thu 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Fri 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sat 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sun 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
privia-virtual-clinic-texas
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COVID testing & Rapid testing near me in Houston, TX

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COVID Test
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5.0(1 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

4500 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 770074500 Washington Ave
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
memorial-herman-gohealth-urgent-care-washington
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown

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3.67(3 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

300 North Loop, Houston, TX 77008300 North Loop
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
memorial-herman-gohealth-urgent-care-greater-heights
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown

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1.0(1 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

2400 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 770082400 N Shepherd Dr
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
memorial-herman-gohealth-urgent-care-the-heights
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown

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1150 Durham Dr, Houston, TX 770071150 Durham Dr
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
neumed-modern-urgent-care-durham-dr
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2401 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 770082401 N Shepherd Dr
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sun 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
neumed-urgent-care-shepard-dr
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3.0(4 reviews)
7900 Fannin St, Houston, TX 770547900 Fannin St
OpenFri 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Mon 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Tue 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Wed 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Thu 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Fri 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sat 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sun 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
privia-virtual-clinic-texas
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2.33(3 reviews)
3501 W Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 770253501 W Holcombe Blvd
OpenFri 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Mon10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Tue10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Wed10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Thu10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Fri10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sat10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sun10:00 am - 10:00 pm
memorial-herman-gohealth-urgent-care-west-university
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown

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4.22(9 reviews)
3501 W Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 770253501 W Holcombe Blvd
OpenFri 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Mon10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Tue10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Wed10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Thu10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Fri10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sat10:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sun10:00 am - 10:00 pm
children-s-memorial-herman-gohealth-urgent-care-west-university-pediatrics
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour

Available times

4.84(2.3k reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

4528 Dacoma St, Houston, TX 770924528 Dacoma St
OpenFri 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Mon 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Tue 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Wed 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Thu 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Fri 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Sat11:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Sun11:00 am - 9:00 pm
pediatrix-primary-and-urgent-care-brookhollow
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Recent patient review

My first time going to pediatrix. Good customer service. Ladies were really nice and patient with my girls.
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown
$30
PCR Test
Rapid
Time to results unknown

Available times

5.0(9 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

2646 S Loop W, Houston, TX 770542646 S Loop W
OpenFri 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue11:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
serenity-healthcare-family-practice-urgent-care
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Recent patient review

Very fast and friendly service. Clean exam rooms, very detailed information. The Dr went over and beyond to help my son and I, and I appreciate it. I will be recommending this office.
PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days
Antigen Test
Rapid
Time to results unknown

Available times

3.0(1 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

5885 San Felipe St, Houston, TX 770575885 San Felipe St
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
memorial-hermann-gohealth-urgent-care-tanglewood
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown

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5.0(6 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

1815 Fountain View Dr, Houston, TX 770571815 Fountain View Dr
View hours of operation
  • MonClosed
  • TueClosed
  • WedClosed
  • ThuClosed
  • FriClosed
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
nightlight-vaccine-tanglewood
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Recent patient review

Thank you to the whole team for being extremely patient, compassionate, and tolerant.

Available times

4.78(1.8k reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

1814 Fountain View Dr, Houston, TX 770571814 Fountain View Dr
OpenFri 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Mon 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Tue 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Wed 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Thu 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Fri 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
  • Sat11:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Sun11:00 am - 9:00 pm
nightlight-pediatric-urgent-care-tanglewood
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Recent patient review

Has aims at the front desk was wonderful. She was informative and help guide me through the process prior to me arriving with my son. Ashley was patient and was great with patients. She explained the crutch process to my son and patiently helped him learn the process of using them.
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PCR Test
Time to results unknown
$30

Available times

4.43(7 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

5901 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 770575901 Westheimer Rd
View hours of operation
  • MonClosed
  • TueClosed
  • WedClosed
  • ThuClosed
  • FriClosed
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
any-lab-test-now-galleria
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Recent patient review

So quick and easy and felt so clean!! Would 10/10 come back for any testing I need!
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Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day
$199
Antigen Test
Rapid
Results in 15 min
$49

Available times

5930 Star Ln, Houston, TX 770575930 Star Ln
OpenFri 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
adx-diagnostic-lab-houston
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Bill Icon

Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$110
Antigen Test
Results in < 1 hour
$35

Available times

5.0(2 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

9635 Hillcroft St, Houston, TX 770969635 Hillcroft St
OpenFri 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • SunClosed
rapid-dx
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Bill Icon

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Clear self-pay prices

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PCR Test
Results in same day
$135

Available times

4.57(7 reviews)
This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their clean offices

Sparkling Clean

12740 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 7702412740 Memorial Dr
OpenFri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
memorial-herman-gohealth-urgent-care-town-and-country
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Recent patient review

Great place….as long as you sign in on line and have all documents the whole process is smooth from start to finish
PCR Test
Time to results unknown

Available times

4.64(1.6k reviews)
6306 Fairbanks North Houston Rd, Houston, TX 770406306 Fairbanks North Houston Rd
OpenFri 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
brazos-urgent-care-fairbanks
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Recent patient review

this was a great place. Clean, check in was fast. kind of difficult to book on line because we do not own a smart phone.

Available times

15355 Vantage Pkwy W, Houston, TX 7703215355 Vantage Pkwy W
OpenFri 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mon 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tue 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thu 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Fri 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • SatClosed
  • SunClosed
alphadera-labs-patient-service-center
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PCR Test
Results in same day
PCR Test
Rapid
Results in same day

Available times

4.72(388 reviews)
This clinic has shorter than average waiting periods

Short Wait Time

This clinic is rated highly in patient reviews and ratings

Highly Rated

This clinic is rated highly in reviews for their friendly staff

Friendly Staff

9380 W Sam Houston Pkwy S, Houston, TX 770999380 W Sam Houston Pkwy S
OpenFri 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Mon 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Tue 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Wed 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Thu 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Fri 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Sat 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sun 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
brazos-urgent-care-southwest
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Recent patient review

So friendly. I felt so comfortable. Everyone is nice. My 1st visit was wow!! Outstanding job. Left so happy and relieve.
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Self-pay pricing

Clear self-pay prices

No more surprise bills. Solv is committed to making getting healthcare as easy as buying groceries at the store, including knowing the price of care upfront.

PCR Test
Results in 1-3 days
$180
PCR Test
Rapid
Results in < 1 hour
$180

Available times

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Great healthcare professionals who treat you like a neighbor (because they are).

VIDEO: Dr. Isaac Thomsen, pediatric infectious disease specialist, discusses COVID-19 and Delta variant and what in means for kids.Watch now!

Latest COVID-19 Testing Updates

Oct 31, 2022
A surge in respiratory syncytial virus is putting severe strain on children's hospitals nationwide. Hospitals first began seeing the unseasonable RSV rise in August. Now, many are reporting a case increase of over 300 percent compared to last month. (Becker's)
Oct 28, 2022
With the BQ.1.1 variant on the rise in Europe, experts express concern of a rise in COVID cases this winter; encourage everyone to max out their boosters and vaccinate their children (Houston Chronicle)

COVID-19 Testing FAQs

  • How much does COVID testing cost in Houston?

    In many cases, COVID testing can be free. Many state and local health departments continue to offer free testing to community residents as part of their response to the pandemic. In other cases, commercially insured patients, or those on Medicare or Medicaid, may receive testing at no out of pocket cost, or with a nominal office visit copay. For cash paying patients, or those that need rapid COVID testing which will deliver results in under an hour, COVID tests can range from $50 to $150 each. It is best to call your healthcare provider prior to getting tested to better understand the cost of the specific test you require.

  • Where can I get free COVID testing in Houston?

    COVID testing is available for free under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes testing for those without health insurance. Check with your Houston-area health department as they are generally a good source for free COVID tests, or can at least point you in the right direction. Additionally, you can ask your primary care provider to recommend a free COVID test site.

  • Where can I get COVID testing in Houston?

    COVID testing is available at many outlets near Houston including urgent care centers, retail clinics, primary care offices, health departments, and more. Different venues will have different types of tests available, many at different price points. Some testing sites are allowing walk-in patients, however, many are still requiring some degree of advance booking to control patient volume.

  • Where can I get a rapid COVID test in Houston?

    Rapid testing—both PCR (molecular) and antigen tests—is offered through many Houston-area urgent care centers and physician offices, usually at an additional cost ranging from $50 up to $150 per test. Usually this will allow you to get results back in under an hour, and require advanced booking through the provider. However, if you can wait 24 hours for your results, many labs are turning around send-out lab tests in that time frame, which could save you some money.

  • How to make an appointment for COVID testing in Houston?

    Same-day and next day appointments for COVID testing in Houston are bookable directly through Solv. Simply browse the list of healthcare providers conducting COVID tests above, find one with a “Book Online” button, and book a time that aligns with your schedule stating “COVID-19 Test” as your reason for visit.

  • Can I get tested for antibodies if I am sick with COVID-19 Houston?

    An antibody test for COVID-19 might inform you if you previously had a coronavirus infection. Because it can take between 1–3 weeks after an infection for your body to develop these antibodies, an antibody test during an active infection would not be successful. To see if you are currently infected, you need a viral test.

  • Do I need a COVID test if I have been vaccinated?

    Even if you have been fully vaccinated, if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, experts believe that you should be tested yourself, particularly if you are experiencing cold and flu symptoms commonly aligned with the coronavirus.

  • How long does COVID testing take?

    Getting a COVID test is quick. Most tests are done with a nasal swab, which takes less than a minute to swab both nostrils. Depending on where you get your COVID test, this means you could be in and out of the testing site in as little as 10-15 minutes. During busy times—particularly around holidays—testing sites may be busier than usual and wait times may be longer.

  • How long does it take to get COVID test results in Houston?

    Most labs are returning send-out molecular (PCR) COVID test results within 24-48 hours of the test. Some sites take longer, so call and ask if the reason for the test is proof for travel. Rapid COVID tests are processed on-site and are able to deliver results in under an hour, sometimes in as little as 15 min.

  • Do COVID tests detect the Delta variant and Omicron variant?

    Regular COVID tests are able to detect both the Delta variant and Omicron variant in that they can determine whether or not you have the coronavirus. However, they can't tell which variation is involved. That would necessitate genomic sequencing, which is a different process from regular virus testing that not all labs can undertake. Sequencing is uncommon and can cost up to $100 per test. Since the treatment is the same for any variant, it is not clinically useful to an individual patient to know whether the infection was caused by a variant or not.

Recent COVID-19 Testing Reviews (20)

I visited Brazos Urgent Care in Champions for a Covid test. Staff was courteous and professional and appeared to be following strict health and sanitation guidelines. The test was administered promptly upon my arrival and wait time for test results was about an hour, of which I was allowed to wait in my car. Overall an easy experience.

- Verified patient on 11/12

This was the best experience for a covid test I have ever heard of! The staff was friendly from the time I called to the time I drove off. From the receptionist, the nurses, to the md and lovely nurse who did the swab, you all made this a positive experience. And it was negative woot woot!

- Verified patient on 10/29

I had to wait about 20 minutes after my appointment time in my car before a room opened up. Once inside, the nurse practitioner was quick and efficient. My 9-year old did not complain about the PCR COVID test in her nose. I would recommend NightLight Urgent Care.

- Verified patient on 12/7

I definitely would come back here if I ever needed an urgent care. I came here to get a COVID test done for a trip that requires it to enter the state. The staff was very nice. Erica who did my test was very informative and very helpful. Thank you for a very pleasant visit.

- Verified patient on 9/24

Excellent and professional service! I had an appointment on 9/6/21 and my son has an appointment on 9/7/21. On Both visits we had the same nurse/cna (not sure of his title) but he is a Hispanic Male with tattoos on his arms. He was sooo attentive and knowledgeable. When my 2 year old had to be given a COVID test, this guy was AWESOME!! As difficult as my 2 year old son was being, the guy stayed calm, patient and comforted my child like a pro! Great experience because of the kind staff! We were in and out very quickly on both visits!

- Verified patient on 9/8

We made an appointment the night before for Covid testing- due to exposure and some Minor symptoms in my two year old. Everyone was efficient and friendly. They made my child feel at ease. Abernathy was amazing and kind. There wasn’t a thing I would complain about.

- Verified patient on 4/11

Need a COVID test. Staff at front desk guides me thru every step. Got my tele-call and was given an appointment. My friend was with me and he had registered but got a late appointment. However, since he is my transportation your team upgraded his appt along with mine. Staff kept in contact and we were tested. Results came sooner than expected. We were both extremely impressed with your services that you provided.

- Verified patient on 1/1

Hi, so the experience was overall ok. But they didn’t do any social distancing and it seemed almost everyone there was doing a covid test. There was roughly 15 people standing in the office line with no space to distance. I would much rather a system where everyone waited in their cars and came in smaller groups. I was also scheduled at 11:00AM but because of the line I wasn’t seen until at least 11:30. I was also told I’d be given results in 15 minutes and it was closer to 40. Again, the experience was ok, but I think we could improve upon it. Thank you!

- Verified patient on 9/3

I made an appointment for my son online to get a covid test. We checked in and was taken to the back for his appointment time. We only had to wait a minute or so and someone came in and took the sample. The room was clean. So was the restroom when my use it. Overall a good experience.

- Verified patient on 8/31

Me and my fiancé got Covid tested and you guys were AMAZING. We were both terrified and you all were awesome and so sweet. Thank you so much for your service and thank you so much for coming out in 95 degree weather in a full hazmat suit.

- Verified patient on 7/5

I’ve had six rapid COVID tests over the past year, all at different locations. I can say without a doubt that y’all were the most organized and efficient of any testing facility I’ve been to - the whole process took less than 20 minutes. Thank you so much!

- Verified patient on 1/20

I pulled up to ask about COVID testing, and after reading the sign outside I called the front desk. From the time I called to the time I spoke to the doctor over Telehealth was probably 30mins. Everyone I've spoken to has been incredibly sweet, and I'll be heading back soon for my swab!

- Verified patient on 6/16

I needed a covid test, and this clinic made it super easy. It was less then three hours between when I first called to inquire about it and when I got my swab done. All the staff members I dealt with were super friendly and knowledgeable!

- Verified patient on 9/28

Quick, available Covid testing. Staff were friendly, caring and working their asses off! There desperately needs to be more than 3 people in that office space. Albeit this, these women were killing themselves making sure we were ok, we felt comfortable and everyone was taken care of in a timely manner. One person should be responsible for sanitizing rooms between patients. The sweet red headed lady was busting her ass to make sure everyone was checked in, rooms were clean, she was doing the swabbing, the testing, the checkout procedures, everything! You’re going to lose a great employee if you don’t get more help in there.

- Verified patient on 8/1

They couldn’t find my husband and I in the system on a appointment we had set for a rapid COVID test but they accepted a text we got as verification explained the test they had available and what was better for us and what our insurance covered. Everyone was super nice. I saw how they treated a difficult client and I was very impressed with their professionalism and patience.

- Verified patient on 8/22

Came in to get a Covid test since I wasn't feeling 100% and didn't want to get my family sick. It was very busy but I managed to get on the waiting list. I really like that I was able to wait at home and got a text when it was time to be seen. Staff was very friendly and professional.

- Verified patient on 12/24

I’m not quite finished with my appointment, so I can’t attest to bedside manner or quality of care. I had a phone consult and the person I spoke with, Renee was very friendly and nice. I’m going for a Covid test and they were done with testing for the day, so I need to go tomorrow.

- Verified patient on 9/19

Doctor really took the time to listen. I had been sick for over a week from a form of RSV that I got from grandson. I provide him with the details and he did a rapid Covid test which I asked for to be certain it wasn’t anything else besides the virus. He gave me steroid shot and other meds to help get me on the road to recovery and provide comfort during the process. They were fast. I was done in 1 hour. Stagf was very friendly as well.

- Verified patient on 5/17

The staff was extremely professional despite the large number of patients walking in and wanting to be seen immediately. They took care of those with appointments and helped those without appointments as soon as possible. Brooke delivered results as quickly as possible and with a smile! This is one of the few places still administering rapid covid test.

- Verified patient on 9/4

This place was so nice! The nurse who performed the COVID test was super sweet and it didn’t sting like the previous COVID tests I have had done. The wait was pretty long but the circumstances for that were understandable. I would HIGHLY recommend going here for COVID test!

- Verified patient on 8/19

Houston COVID Testing & Rapid Testing

Types of COVID Tests

There are two types of coronavirus tests (COVID-19 tests) available, those that can test for a current infection (viral test) and those that can test for a past infection (antibody test).

Viral COVID testing can be done in a few different ways, the most common being nose swabs, but saliva tests are becoming more popular. Some tests are processed out on-site and can provide results in as little as 30 minutes. These are called rapid COVID tests. The majority of tests, on the other hand, are collected at the clinic on-site and then submitted to off-site labs for processing. Results can take up to 2-3 days to arrive. 

Antibody testing looks for a past infection and may not reveal if you have an active COVID-19 infection because antibodies can take up to three weeks to form in your body. The presence of COVID antibodies may help to prevent you from becoming infected with the same virus again; but, because the clinical understanding of COVID-19 is still developing, it's unclear how long that protection will continue.

Who should get tested for current infection

The CDC currently defines four instances where COVID testing is recommended:

  1. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
  2. If you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. Close contact is defined as within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. If you have been vaccinated, or tested positive in the past 3 months and not experiencing symptoms, you do not need to be tested.
  3. If you are unvaccinated and participated in high-risk activities where distancing is not an option. This could include travel, large social or mass gatherings, crowded indoor settings, etc.
  4. If you have been referred to get a COVID test by your healthcare provider or local health department. 

How is testing done for COVID-19?

Most COVID tests are collected by a nasal swab. A member of the medical team puts a swab inside your nose for a few seconds on each side to collect the sample. After that, the samples are packaged according to CDC guidelines and tested on-site or transported to a facility for testing. The lab will test samples for the presence of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID infection and either your care provider or the lab will notify you with the results as soon as they are available.

PCR vs Antigen Testing

Viral COVID tests are available as molecular and antigen tests. The molecular test, also known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, usually delivers results within a few days since most of these tests are sent to offsite labs for analysis. The average turnaround time for PCR test results is 48 hours, but in some instances may be significantly longer due to backlogs related to insufficient lab volume and capacity. Antigen tests are also known as rapid tests and have an average turnaround time of between 15 to 30 minutes.

Both PCR and rapid COVID tests can be used to test people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, those who were close contacts to COVID-19, and those without COVID-19 symptoms who live or work in a high-risk setting (such as a nursing facility); or those individuals who are identified as part of outbreak detection and response. The rapid COVID test is also recommended for the screening of residents or healthcare workers at skilled nursing facilities along with a PCR confirmation, and for repeat screening for the early detection and prevention of outbreaks in congregate settings (such as schools, workplaces, and prisons).

COVID testing is available for free under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes testing for those without health insurance. To reduce the risk of facing extra costs related to COVID testing, ask your primary care doctor to recommend a free COVID test site, and confirm there are no charges or fees for the test that are not covered by your insurance plan. Additionally, avoid getting a COVID test at a hospital or free-standing emergency room, as these facilities may charge fees for COVID testing and related services.

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