16 Key Considerations for Drive-Through or Mobile Testing

March 19, 2020 | Marcus Plescia

The outbreaks of COVID-19 across the country have forced the health-care workforce to think more creatively. As cases of the virus continue to climb upward across the country, it’s imperative to get people tested in an efficient and safe manner. To prevent hospitals from getting overrun, several states and health-care facilities have implemented drive-through or mobile testing units to minimize the surge of individuals at healthcare settings such as local emergency department.

However, providing a satellite setting to get tested requires a bit of planning. Here are key considerations for state health departments that are exploring drive-through or mobile testing options for COVID-19:

  • Create a public webpage with testing information, descriptions and expectations of the drive-through testing service, and if applicable, available appointment dates and times.
  • Incorporate online or phone screenings by a health professional to assess patient risk prior to testing.
  • Provide telephonic interpretations for populations who may have language barriers.
  • Consider locations (such as parking lots) that can be secured and have a visible entrance and exit.
  • Consider setting-up “walk-through” stations or mobile clinics, as vehicle-only options may limit who can be tested.
  • Provide services that extend outside of normal business hours.
  • Consider utilizing appointments to manage the volume of individuals that need to be tested.
  • Use photo identification to confirm individuals who have passed screenings and/or who have appointments. Photo identification other than a driver license should be considered (e.g. work badges, school IDs, etc.)
  • Determine the preferred format required for a physician’s order (e.g. electronic or hand-written).
  • Have personnel on-site in PPE or a safe distance away from patients if not wearing PPE.
  • Discourage individuals from using Uber, Lyft or other ride-share vehicles.
  • Media should be discouraged from visiting the testing site; however, plan to meet with members of the media early to discuss on-site visitation and how they can protect patient privacy.
  • For crowd control, law enforcement or some other type of security personnel may be needed. However, this may reduce the likelihood of immigrants or certain populations from utilizing the services.
  • Assemble tents for vehicles to protect patient privacy and to protect health workers from the weather.
  • Where applicable, explore and issue cost waivers for testing services.
  • For testing sites that plan to use commercial laboratories, state and local health departments should collaborate with commercial laboratories around sharing specimens and providing laboratory results for further analysis.

As of March 17, these are the notable examples of drive through and mobile testing units state-by-state. ASTHO will continue to monitor the progress of state testing efforts and provide technical assistance as needed.


  • Stanford Health Care's same-day primary care program is offering drive-through testing at their Palo Alto location by appointment for those who have been referred by their medical provider. Drive-through testing services will be available seven days a week and patients will be notified of results within 24 hours. The clinic also offers video appointments.
  • Kaiser Permanente will open several drive-up testing centers at their French Campus in San Francisco and East Bay locations and will offer appointments to individuals that meet CDC’s testing criteria and have a doctor's order. Test results can take between four and seven days. More drive-through testing centers are expected to open in the coming weeks.
  • Project Baseline by Verily (a Google affiliate) is piloting a COVID-19 screening and testing website in the San Francisco Bay Area. Individuals will be required to complete an online screener based on guidelines from public health officials, to determine whether testing is available.


  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) opened a drive-through testing center in Denver on Wednesday, March 11, offering free testing to individuals with a doctor’s order confirming they met the testing criteria. Testing services were offered from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and individuals were contacted directly with their results within 72 hours. Due to high-volume and weather, CDPHE closed the drive-through testing site in Denver on March 14. More information on testing site locations throughout Colorado will be made available Tuesday, March 17.


  • In collaboration with state and local health departments, Greenwich, Bristol and Waterbury Hospitals have opened drive-through testing centers for individuals with a signed doctor’s order.



  • The Mayo Clinic in Rochester opened a drive-through testing center on March 12 to individuals who have passed a phone screening. Specimens will be sent to the Minnesota Department of Health.

New Mexico

  • The New Mexico Department of Health is in the process of establishing drive-through testing locations.
  • Presbyterian, Lovelace, and Optum New Mexico Clinics in Albuquerque will offer drive-through screening and testing for those that meet the testing criteria. Optum New Mexico will offer drive-through testing by appointment only.

New York




Washington State