Patient Care

Fact Sheet: UR Medicine Testing for COVID-19

Mar. 22, 2021
Please note: this is an updated version of an article first published on March 19, 2020. Statistics and processes have been changed to reflect current information.


Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, UR Medicine Labs began working to obtain government approvals, equipment and supplies to provide COVID-19 testing on-site. We appreciate the support we have received from the Governor’s office, Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program, and Wadsworth Laboratory in these efforts. The lab began processing COVID-19 tests on March 16, 2020 and has processed more than 500,000 samples since then.

As of March 2021, the lab has capacity to process up to 4,000 COVID PCR tests and several hundred antibody tests per day, to meet the needs of our system without sending samples to outside labs.

Who Is Being Tested for COVID-19 at UR Medicine?

Our labs process PCR tests from all UR Medicine hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities. This includes all COVID tests required for our patients and staff, as well as tests required for medical research projects and asymptomatic tests done in accordance with Gov. Cuomo’s directives (for example, patients scheduled for outpatient elective procedures, patients being admitted to a hospital and patients awaiting discharge to a nursing home or other long-term care facility).

Patients who are part of the UR Medicine system may visit one of our urgent care centers for PCR testing; these tests are free with a referral from a UR Medicine physician.

If I am a Patient Getting Tested for COVID-19 or COVID-19 Antibodies, What Information Will I Need to Provide?

To comply with New York State requirements and aid in contact tracing efforts, patients getting a COVID-19 PCR or antibody test will be asked to provide the following when being registered at the site where they will provide a specimen for testing:   

  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Occupation
  • Employer name
  • Work address
  • Employer phone number
  • Whether you work or volunteer in an elementary, secondary, or post-secondary school, and the name of such school
  • Whether you attend school (if applicable)

What Can Patients Undergoing Procedures or Tests, or Being Admitted, Expect?

All patients who will undergo moderate or deep sedation, and/or require general anesthesia for their elective surgery or non-urgent procedure must be tested for COVID-19 in these timeframes:

  • For any outpatient elective surgery or procedure that requires general anesthesia, pre-operative COVID testing should be completed one to three days prior to surgery with rare exceptions (i.e., patient lives far away, unanticipated surgery delays). When an exception occurs, the testing must take place within five days.
  • For all other outpatient procedures, pre-operative COVID testing may be completed up to five days before the procedure.

Minor procedures and surgeries performed with minimal sedation DO NOT require pre-procedure testing.

All patients being admitted to Strong Memorial and Golisano Children’s Hospital will be tested for COVID-19; this does not include patients in the Emergency Department and Observation units for brief stays. Turnaround times for these tests will be five to six hours.

Who Is Being Tested for COVID Antibodies at UR Medicine?

Our providers order COVID-19 antibody tests for patients who:

  • Are being diagnosed or treated for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Children (MIS-C)
  • Have fully recovered from COVID-19 and would like to donate convalescent plasma
  • Previously had symptoms of COVID-19 but did not receive a test to learn if they were infected

Antibody tests are also available to faculty and staff members of URMC and UR Medicine affiliates who want to determine if they have previously been exposed to the virus.

How Testing Works

  1. Specimen collection: A health care provider, wearing mask and protective eyewear, obtains a sample by inserting a swab into the nasal passage of the patient.
  2. Transport: Patient sample gets sealed in the COVID-19 collection kit and transported to the lab via a lab courier.
  3. Collection and tracking: Collection kit is brought to the UR Medicine lab and labeled for tracking.
  4. Testing: Analytical processing and testing happens in a biosafety level 2 area lab. The room has negative pressure to prevent transmission of viruses during the testing process.  
  5. Reports: Results are reported to the health care provider; UR Medicine also shares results data with the NYSDOH and county health departments as they work to track active cases and manage the response to this health care emergency.

Lab Turnaround Times

On average, results from COVID tests are available within 24 hours. High-priority tests can be processed in under six hours, and results from routine tests can take 48 hours or slightly longer when testing volumes are high. For antibody tests, results are available within 24 hours.

What Patients Should Do if They Think They are Ill with COVID-19

  • Call their health care provider, or email using the MyChart patient portal
  • Call the UR Medicine COVID-19 support line at 1-888-928-0011.  
  •  People who do not have a health care provider can also contact the Monroe County Health Department for advice at  (585) 753-5555, or email