Public Health

Where & How to Get Tested For Coronavirus COVID-19 in New Orleans

Khang T. Vuong13 May 2020

Quick Digest

  • Cases in New Orleans reach 5,242
  • The death toll is up to 224 city wide
  • If you are younger than 60 and do not show any symptoms, health officials advise stay at home and do not visit the emergency room as there may be a high concentration of sick people.
  • Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a stay at home order for Louisiana residents
  • Tests require physician approval

Live Update April 3rd, 12:43 New Orleans, Louisiana: Due to the rate of infection, all residents are advised to assume they have been exposed to COVID-19. Residents are urged to stay home, other than for essential purposes, and avoid contact with others. The county is still the epicenter of the outbreak in Louisiana, accounting for just over 33% of all cases statewide.

Life Update April 6th, 12:04 New Orleans, Louisiana: Lyft has donated $5,000 to go towards free rides to and from Food Distribution Sites in New Orleans. Free rides can be accessed by using the following promo code: CV19NOLAPS20 on Monday and Wednesday from 9am-12pm.

Public Health Advisory For COVID-19 Pandemic in Lousiana

In response to the growing crisis across the state, Louisiana officials are advising the public to practice social distancing by not gathering with large groups of people. Significant social events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana and introduce the spread to new communities.

Furthermore, Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor Latoya Cantrell have issued a stay at home order for Louisiana residents. As of March 23rd 2020 residents are compelled to:

  • Stay home unless it is necessary to go to work or get necessities
  • Cover your cough
  • Wash your hands

The Louisiana Department of Health has advised those who have had contact with someone who is set to be tested for COVID-19 to self-isolate for 10 to 14 days as a precaution while monitoring your own symptoms. These self-isolation measures help to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have infectious diseases.

If you‚re healthy, you only need to wear protection if dealing directly with someone infected with COVID-19, or when leaving self-isolation to purchase essential items. You can request a mask from the Louisiana Department of Health if you are experiencing symptoms.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell

Screening Information for Residents of New Orleans  

If you begin to exhibit any of the symptoms yourself, you are urged by the LDOH to request a test immediately. Those symptoms are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest*

*This list is not exhaustive. Consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

New Orleans residents cannot obtain a test themselves; they must first be screened by a doctor, either over the phone or in person. In the first instance, you must call 211 or your healthcare provider, who will then provide you with further instructions.

Once instructed by your medical provider, you must then call ahead before arriving at a doctor‚s office or testing center. A physician may then opt to perform additional screening and determine whether you are eligible for testing.

Where to Get Tested for Coronavirus?

Once approved by a physician for a test, you must report to one of the local testing centers within Orleans county. You may be able to telephone the testing center directly if instructed to do so by your medical provider and perform your screening there. There may be a wait of at least a few days as healthcare providers are the priority for testing kits. The testing centers in the city are as follows:

  • Crescent Care - 1631 Elysian Fields Ave, New Orleans - All clients are asked to please call ahead before visit any Crescent Care site. 1631 Elysian Fields location will provide walk-in testing from 9 am-4 pm if the patient presents with fever AND one of the following three symptoms: cough OR shortness of breath OR sore throat. Please bring a picture ID and insurance card.
  • Mahalia Jackson Theater - 1419 Basin St, New Orleans - Screening for fever and cough upon arrival. Please bring a picture ID and insurance card.
  • Ochsner Center for Primary Care & Wellness - 1401 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans - Ochsner patients only - orders come through EMR
  • UNO Lakefront - 6801 Franklin Ave, New Orleans - Screening for fever and cough upon arrival. Please bring a picture ID and insurance card.
  • New Orleans East Hospital - 5620 Read Blvd, New Orleans - Patients experience symptoms of fever over 100.4, cough, body aches, sore through, runny nose, etc., are asked to call the hotline #: 504-962-6202. Screening will take place over the phone, and if further evaluation is needed, patients will be directed to the drive-through testing center. Please bring a valid ID and insurance card.

As indicated, you cannot just walk into a hospital or testing center for a test; you must have apparent symptoms and either the preexisting authorization of either your doctor or another doctor situated at a testing center.

What to Expect?

If determined eligible for testing, then you will undergo a series of procedures which will produce samples for laboratories carrying out COVID-19 testing.

  • Nasal Swab - You will be asked to sit down tilt your head back, the clinician will then insert the nasal swab, pushing right to the back of the nasal cavity. The clinicians will then rotate the swab to get enough material for a sample, which may feel a little uncomfortable.
  • Throat Swab - For this test, you will be asked to open your mouth. The clinician will then place the swab toward the back of the throat. They will then rub the swab over the area close to your tonsils to gain the necessary material for a sample.
  • Lower Respiratory Specimen - For the final sample, you will be asked to cough up a specimen of sputum, which you will regurgitate directly into a sterile sputum collection cup. That cup is then sealed and sent off with the remainder of the samples.

Due to the strain of enormous demands nationwide, laboratory test results can take up to seven days to be processed and relayed back to you.

Nasopharyngeal swab for COVID-19 testing

How much does it cost?

The federal government has pledged that the costs for coronavirus tests will be waived for all Americans. However, you will need to work with your health care provider for more information on your specific treatment costs within New Orleans.

Although there haven‚t been many accounts detailing the insurance experience of New Orleans residents, there have been personal stories on social media from Orleans county residents that demonstrate that insurance companies are honoring the pledge for free testing, after some initial resistance.  

What Are Some of the Caveats?

While the US federal government has agreed with insurers to cover the ‚Äúout of pocket‚Äù costs of COVID-19 testing, those costs only include diagnostic testing. If you test positive, you will need to then speak to your medical insurance provider to discuss your options, as subsequent treatment for the virus will not be waived.  

Healthcare Can Be Confusing, Here Are More Resources:


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