Public Health

Where and How to Get Tested for Coronavirus in Philadelphia, PA?

Khang T. Vuong13 May 2020

Quick Digest

  • Number of COVID-19 cases reaches 3,189
  • Deaths hit 43 over the weekend
  • Mayor Jim Kenney issues an indefinite Business Activity and Stay at Home Order  
  • Testing only made available for those who fit predetermined criteria
  • Individuals are asked to complete a brief survey to help the Health Department better understand and monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Philadelphia
  • The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) is sending texts and emails to contact individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who may have come in contact with a person with COVID-19

Live Update April 3rd, 10:00 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia broke through the 3,000 cases barrier over the weekend with positive tests now standing at 3,189. Deaths also increased to 43 (16 of which were from one nursing home), as over 11,000 cases have been reported across the state of Pennsylvania.  

Latest Public Health Advice and Guidance for the City of Philadelphia 

The Business Activity and Stay at Home order issued by Mayor Jim Kenney has been extended indefinitely in response to the continuous threat posed by coronavirus for the foreseeable future. Local government officials have also implored residents to remain at home as much as possible while also practicing social distancing when leaving the house, whether suffering symptoms or not. 

Those that do suffer symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus such as a fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing should self-isolate for at least 14 days. That means staying within your home and avoiding contact with the outside world unless seeking medical attention if symptoms worsen. If you do need to leave home, you should wear a face mask. 

The PDPH also updated its guidance around face masks to fall in line with the CDC advice given on Friday. While the CDC says that face coverings can help to prevent and slow the transmission of COVID-19, those who are healthy and practicing social distancing do not need to wear them. They have suggested the following use cases:

  • For entering public areas where social distancing is challenging to maintain (e.g., pharmacy, grocery stores).
  • For those who have to come into close contact with others (e.g., healthcare workers, residential healthcare providers).
  • For those who are exhibiting any of the associated symptoms 

The City of Philadelphia has asked citizens to fashion their own makeshift masks to protect the supply of medical-grade masks for healthcare providers. 

How to make a face mask.

What Are the Predetermined Criteria for Testing in Philadelphia?

If you develop a fever or cough, you should observe the self-isolation guidelines and not seek a test. Since there is no treatment for COVID-19, a test will not make any material difference to your medical condition. That said, you should seek medical attention if you have severe trouble breathing, experience a worsening cough, chest pain, or any other severe symptoms.  

There are only specific individuals that will be granted access to a test in Philadelphia. Those people have been defined as follows:

  • Healthcare workers
  • People living or working in group settings like nursing homes or shelters
  • Adults over age 50
  • People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease or have a weakened immune system
  • Contact with a known case of COVID-19 within 14 days
  • People with severe or worsening illness and those who must be hospitalized

If you display symptoms and you also fall into any of the above categories, you should first call your healthcare provider. Either call or contact them over the internet so that a medical professional can evaluate whether testing is appropriate for you. Please note, even if you fulfill all of the testing criteria, you still may not be deemed to require testing. If you are just exposed to the coronavirus, you may not be able to receive testing.

Where Can You Get Tested for COVID-19 in Philadelphia?

If you are adjudged to fit the criteria, and your physician indicates that testing is necessary, you will need to report to one of the following testing or drive-through centers located throughout the city:

  • Penn Medicine: call COVID-19 Hotline at (267) 785-8585 or go to their website. 
  • Jefferson: use JeffConnect for a virtual doctor‚s visit and testing referral if indicated or go to their website. 
  • Temple: Patient Triage Hotline at (215) 707-6999 or go to their website.
  • Einstein Hospital: (800) 346-7834 or go to their website.  
  • Children‚s Hospital of Philadelphia: (800) 879-2467 or go to their website. 
  • Mercy: Health COVID-19 Hotline (833) 247-1258.
  • Mainline Health Contact Center: (866) 225-5654 or go to their website.  
  • PHMC.
  • City Health Center: patients can call (215) 685-2933.

Many federally-qualified health centers and other clinics also offer COVID-19 testing. Call before going to the clinic. If you are not able to get tested through your medical provider, you can be tested at a public drive-through testing site: 

  • Citizens Bank Park - Hours: Daily from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. To be tested here, you must have symptoms of fever and new onset of cough AND be either over 50 or a health care worker.
  • Rite Aid, 7401 Ogontz Ave., 19138 - Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To be tested here, you must be a healthcare worker or a first responder. You do not need to have symptoms.

Those attending a test have been asked to arrive covered by a face mask, homemade or otherwise, to help protect frontline clinicians.  

How Does the COVID-19 Procedure Work?

Whether you attend an in-person clinic or a drive-through testing facility, the process is very similar. Upon arrival, you will first be evaluated as to whether you do indeed require testing. If deemed appropriate, the procedure will consist of a clinician taking one upper respiratory tract specimen, and only if possible, a lower respiratory tract specimen.

The upper respiratory tract specimen is produced via a nasopharyngeal swab. The swab is inserted into your nose and will be extended right to the very top of the nasal passage, which may cause some mild discomfort. Once enough material has been gathered, the clinician will then insert a swab into the back of your throat (tonsil region) to collect another specimen for testing. There is not a blood testing option as of now.

At a drive-through center, this will likely conclude your test. However, at an in-person test, you may be asked to cough up a sputum sample from your lungs (if you can produce one). If you don‚t have a cough, you will not be asked to complete this task, and the other two swabs will suffice for lab tests.    

Results take up to six business days to arrive, and you will be able to access them via a patient portal on your specific lab‚s website. Those companies are Bioreference Laboratories, LabCorp, or Quest Diagnostics. City officials are also contacting people who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or that have come into close contact with someone else that has.     

Although stories are scant regarding the actual testing procedure, here is the story of a Pennsylvania man who became the first in Philadelphia to successfully recover from the virus, after being hospitalized.  

What are the Restrictions Related to Coverage for COVID-19 Testing?

The PDPH is keen to stress that no one will be turned away due to a lack of insurance or documentation, and all copayments relating to COVID-19 testing will be waived. However, any subsequent treatment carried out as the direct result of a positive COVID-19 test result will incur standard charges from the healthcare provider in question.   



ABC6 News - Additional 181 positive coronavirus cases announced in Philadelphia, COVID-19 death toll at 43 in city -

Bioreference Laboratories-

City of Philadelphia – Emergency Order No. 2 -

Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) - Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 -

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia-

City of Philadelphia - How to make alternative face masks and shields when other personal protective equipment is unavailable -

Einstein Healthcare-



Mainline Health-

Penn Medicine-

Philadelphia Department of Public Health – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Signs and Symptoms -

Philadelphia Department of Public Health - Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Getting Tested For COVID-19 - 

PHMC Healthcare-

Quest Diagnostics-

The Health Nexus-

Temple Health-

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