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Mayor Bowser Highlights the District’s Coronavirus Testing Capacity

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District Department of Health (DC Health) published information for residents on getting tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the District, including new locations for drive-thru and walk-up testing by hospitals and health providers.

This information and other updates on the District’s response to COVID-19 are available at coronavirus.dc.gov.

COVID-19 Testing

Doctors decide on COVID-19 testing. If an individual is experiencing symptoms including cough, fever, and shortness of breath, they should consult their doctor before visiting. If their doctor decides that a COVID-19 test is warranted, the doctor has the ability to swab the appropriate areas and send the swabs to a private lab for testing or to work with DC Health to send it to the District’s Public Health Lab. The private lab will share results with the doctor who will share the results with the individual. The private lab will also alert DC Health of all COVID-19 test results, regardless of whether the test is positive or negative.

If any medical providers need assistance with testing, they are encouraged to reach out to DC Health.

COVID-19 Specimen Submission Guidelines

Priority Groups for Testing

The District has identified three priority groups for testing, which are aligned with those identified by the US Public Health Service (USPHS):

  • Hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with COVID-19 symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. This ensures optimal care options for all hospitalized patients, lessens the risk of healthcare-associated infections, and maintains the integrity of the US healthcare system. Many of the patients in this group are currently receiving testing within hospitals and through their health systems’ occupational health programs.
  • Patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms; patients over the age of 65 with symptoms; patients with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease who also have symptoms; and first responders with symptoms. This priority ensures those at highest risk of complication of infection are rapidly identified and appropriately triaged.
  • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms; individuals who do not meet any of the above categories but have symptoms; healthcare facility workers and first responders; and individuals in detention centers and individuals experiencing homelessness with symptoms. This priority will allow us to test individuals, decrease community spread, and ensure the health of essential workers.

Drive-thru/Walk-up Currently Operating

Children’s National Health System

To reduce the number of visits by families to emergency departments for COVID-19 testing, Children’s National Health System opened a drive-thru/walk-up location where primary care doctors in the region can refer young patients for COVID-19 specimen collection and testing. The site location, donated by Trinity Washington University in Northwest DC, can safely test children and young adults through 22 years of age who have been identified by their pediatrician or other primary care doctor as having symptoms of COVID-19. The specimens are collected and sent offsite to the program’s laboratory partner, Quest Diagnostics, for testing.

Referral needed?

Yes. Community pediatricians and other primary care doctors use their clinical judgement to determine who they refer to the drive-thru/walk-up location. They may choose to refer patients who are either at an increased risk for developing severe symptoms due to the child’s underlying medical condition or because the child has an immediate family member who is in a high-risk category. All referred patients receive the necessary paperwork and directions to access the drive-through and walk-up site from their referring physician. When arriving at the site, photo identification and the referral form are required to enter. All results are communicated back to the family by the referring doctor within three to five days.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente has established a walk-up/drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Washington, DC near their Capitol Hill Medical Center, which is located at 700 2nd Street, NE. They also have five (5) additional drive-up clinics in the mid-Atlantic region.

Referral needed?

Yes. All Kaiser Permanente testing sites are for their members and require a doctor’s order and appointment.

Coming Soon

George Washington Hospital

The George Washington University Hospital plans to offer a drive-thru testing system that will focus on the symptomatic community requiring non-emergent testing. The hours for this testing site will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, they plan to coordinate another drive-thru in the East End in the coming weeks.

GW and UMC Collaboration

The District of Columbia Government will be launching a drive-thru testing site on the campus of United Medical Center in the coming weeks.

The leadership of United Medical Center has offered the use of substantial space on their campus that can be used without disruption to their operations and patient care, including emergency services. District government will partner with a local health system to provide the clinical support. The DC Government will provide testing through the District’s Public Health Lab.


Medstar Health

The MedStar Health e-Visit is a faster, easier way to see a medical provider for basic express care needs. The service is a virtual/video visit with a medical provider offering consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and even prescriptions when appropriate. MedStar e-Visit is available 24/7 and is open to anyone in the MedStar service area which includes Washington, DC. This service can be accessed via the MedStar e-Visit app on a smartphone or tablet, or on a PC by going directly to MedStarhealth.org/eVisit. You do NOT need to be a MedStar Health patient to access an e-Visit provider. In other words, this platform is open to residents of the District of Columbia. Based on the outcomes of the e-Visit, patients may be referred for COVID-19 testing from an e-Visit provider to one of MedStar Health’s testing sites with a physician’s order.

MedStar Health also has two urgent care facilities in the District of Columbia: one on Capitol Hill and one in Adams Morgan. Both facilities are open seven (7) days a week from 8am-8pm and offer testing for COVID-19 if indicated with a doctor’s order. MedStar also has 12 additional urgent care centers in the Washington, DC/Baltimore areas.