How to get tested for COVID-19

UW Medicine offers drive-up and walk-up testing for new and returning patients at Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center – Northwest for the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. This nasal swab test will determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19.

All Ages

  • Harborview Medical Center, Alley
  • 319 Terry Ave, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 8:30 am - 3:15 pm

Ages 14+

  • UW Medical Center – Northwest, Parking Garage 
  • 1510 North 115th St, Seattle, WA 98133
  • 8:30 am - 4:00 pm 

Pre-Surgery Patients

If your clinic told you that you need a COVID-19 test prior to surgery, call the Contact Center at 206.520.8700 or sign in to eCare to schedule.

Who should get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)

You should get tested for coronavirus if:

  1. You have any of the following NEW symptoms not explained by another known condition: 
    • 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
    • Diarrhea
  2. You have had close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  3. You have been referred for a test by a healthcare provider or state or local health department.

If you’re interested instead in an antibody test, read more about antibody testing. The antibody test is not the same as a nasal swab test and does not check to see if you have a current COVID-19 infection. People who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should NOT get an antibody test.

How COVID-19 testing works

Schedule your appointment at the COVID-19 Testing Site at Harborview or the COVID-19 Testing Site at UW Medical Center – Northwest. You can usually schedule a test within 24-48 hours. Patients must be at least 14 years old to be tested at our UW Medical Center – Northwest location. Children of all ages may be tested at the COVID-19 Testing Site at Harborview.

You must bring a form of identification with you to your appointment — such as a driver’s license or passport — to confirm your identity. Both walk-up and drive-up patients should wear a mask and arrive five minutes before their scheduled test time.  

Drive-up patients: Drive-up patients will see signs directing you where to go. To help with traffic flow, please be on time and do not arrive more than 10 minutes prior to your appointment.

Pull up to the testing area and remain in your car with your windows closed. A healthcare provider will signal you when it’s time to lower your car window. You will be asked to verify your name and date of birth.

Walk-up patients: Walk-up patients should not use public transportation or ride share services (to avoid possible transmission). You will be directed to line up. Please maintain 6 feet of distance from other individuals. You will be asked to verify your name and date of birth.

A healthcare provider will put a cotton swab up both nostrils, one after the other, for 10-15 seconds each. This method is called a nasopharyngeal swab because the sample is collected from the upper part of the throat behind the nose known as the nasopharynx.

The process can be uncomfortable but is rarely painful. Some patients experience a slight nosebleed, which can be controlled using tissue and pressure.

You will be given a QR (quick response) code. This code allows you to use a computer or mobile device to go online and access your test results – usually within 24-48 hours.

While you’re waiting for test results, you should self-quarantine at home. For more information on what to do while you wait, read our follow-up instructions.

If your COVID-19 test result is positive or inconclusive, a healthcare provider will call you to let you know.

How payment for your coronavirus test works

Your insurance and billing information is gathered at the time that you make your COVID-19 testing appointment.

UW Medicine will bill your insurance. If you do not have insurance, you will be responsible for the bill. Please read more on payment for coronavirus testing under Frequently asked questions about care and services.

Frequently asked questions

No, please do not leave your vehicle.  A healthcare provider will take your nose swab while you remain in your car. 

If possible, please drive yourself to maintain good physical distancing. However, this is not required. You may still get tested if you’re the passenger instead of the driver. Multiple people who need testing may drive together.

Yes, please bring identification, such as a driver’s license or passport so we can verify your identity. You do not need to show your insurance card or register your vehicle.

Wait times can vary, but it is typically under 10 minutes.

Turnaround time for COVID-19 testing varies; it may take up to 24 to 48 hours to receive your test results, although results may be available sooner. We recommend signing up for eCare, if you don't already have an account, to get your results faster.

For more information on what to do while you wait, read our follow-up instructions.

Yes, the City of Seattle offers COVID-19 testing through a partnership with King County and UW Medicine. Drive-through and walk-up testing is available. Registration is required.

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