COVID-19 Testing Information

UTMB Health COVID-19 Testing


From the early days of COVID-19, UTMB Health has been a leader in supporting our communities and partners with the development and delivery of accurate, quality COVID-19 testing. Through an innovative partnership between UTMB researchers and clinicians, we provided some of the earliest testing and have been able to expand testing capacity steadily.

All our testing is being done in designated testing sites and requires an appointment. To schedule your test, please call (800) 917-8906. For additional information, review our list of frequently asked questions below.

FAQs

Call the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to schedule an appointment for a test.  For the safety of our patients and staff, all COVID testing through UTMB is on an appointment-only basis.  Call volume for testing has been high and we apologize in advance if you experience a delay; the line is answered 24 hours a day, including weekends. 

Last modified on 7/8/2020

UTMB offers tests to people showing symptoms and those who show no symptoms (symptomatic and asymptomatic). While anyone can be tested, the primary people who would benefit from testing are those who are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, who have been exposed to other people who have tested positive, who are at higher risk because of other health issues, or whose jobs/roles put them at risk or in contact with many people.

Last modified on 7/8/2020

COVID-19 symptoms vary by person (and some individuals who test positive show no symptoms), but the most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Nonproductive persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Chills or repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain (including new onset low back pain)
  • Joint pain or extreme fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Conjunctivitis (red eye with discharge) 

Last modified on 7/8/2020

People with COVID-19 have experienced a wide range of symptoms– ranging from mild/barely detectable discomfort to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Last modified on 7/8/2020

Yes, if you are experiencing symptoms, you can schedule an appointment to get a test and be seen by a provider/get care for your symptoms at the same time. Please mention this when you are making your appointment.

You can also choose to only get a test (viral or antibody) and not get any care.

Last modified on 7/8/2020

You can request the test you wish to have administered. You can get both tests, but not on the same visit.

The viral test always provides the most actionable information and is best if you are experiencing symptoms; it tells caregivers how to best treat you in an effective and safe way, especially if you need other care or a procedure. A positive result to a viral test also confirms that you should isolate yourself from others.

The antibody test’s primary benefit is to inform you if you’ve been exposed/had a COVID-19 infection.

 

Last modified on 7/8/2020

You should be tested 3-4 days after being exposed to someone who has tested positive. This will give the virus time to get to detectable levels and reduces the risk of a false negative test result. 

Last modified on 7/8/2020

No. For the safety of our patients seeking routine care, COVID tests are not offered in our regular clinics, only at our designated testing sites.  Visitor restrictions are in place across our health system and screening is part of every appointment. Learn more about how we are keeping people safe.

Last modified on 7/8/2020

UTMB has designated COVID-19 testing sites in League City, Texas City, Galveston and Angleton. When you schedule your testing appointment by calling (800) 917-8906, you’ll be directed to the testing site most convenient to you. 

All testing at UTMB is by appointment only, for the safety of our patients and to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. 

Last modified on 7/8/2020

Test results are available within 24 to 72 hours, depending on the type of test and the volume of tests being processed on a given day. If your test results are negative, your results with be sent to you via text message (please ensure your phone number is correct in our system).

If your results are positive, you will be called with your test results by someone who can answer questions you may have.  Your results will also be available online if you are a user of UTMB’s MyChart electronic health record. (Learn more about MyChart or sign up).

Last modified on 7/8/2020

The most commonly encountered COVID-19 viral test results, with their interpretation, are explained online.

Last modified on 7/8/2020

NEED A TEST?

Call (800) 917-8906 to be scheduled to a testing site near you. Lines are staffed 24/7.

COVID-19 General FAQs

FAQs

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission. 
  • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 4/29/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

External Resources