Updated DOH and DOHMH Guidance on COVID-19 Testing

June 5, 2020

This article is superseded by the October 16 bulletin DOHMH Updates COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Guidance.

In the past week, both the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) issued updated guidance on diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

DOH Updates COVID-19 Testing Prioritization

On May 31, DOH released updated guidance for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Per Executive Order 202.19 issued on April 17, all laboratories in the State that conduct COVID-19 testing should do so in accordance with the DOH-established prioritization process.

The updated guidance aims to ensure the appropriate use of resources through statewide coordinated testing prioritization. Health care providers are advised to follow the following prioritization when ordering a COVID-19 test.

  • Symptomatic individuals, particularly if the individual is part of a high-risk population, including persons who are hospitalized; persons residing in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, or other congregate care settings; persons who have a compromised immune system; persons who have an underlying health condition; and persons who are 70 years of age or older
  • Individuals under 21 years of age who have symptoms consistent with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which is also known as Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome
  • Individuals requiring a COVID-19 test for medical care, including being tested prior to an elective surgery or procedure, or individuals who are pregnant and their designated support person
  • Individuals who have had close (i.e. within six feet) or proximate contact with a person known to be positive for COVID-19
  • Individuals who are subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine
  • Individuals who are employed as health care workers, first responders, or in any position within a nursing home, long-term care facility, or other congregate care setting (the guidance lists potential occupations to include in this category)
  • Individuals who are employed as essential employees who directly interact with the public while working or who are employed by an essential business (the guidance lists workers and businesses considered essential)
  • Individuals who present with a case where the facts and circumstances—as determined by the treating clinician in consultation with state or local department of health officials—warrant testing, or other criteria set forth by DOH (e.g., place of residence, occupation)

Additionally, the Governor announced today that the State is expanding COVID-19 testing criteria to include any individual who attended any of the recent protests across the State. The Governor also encouraged any individual who attended a protest to get a test.

Information for patients on where and how to get tested for COVID-19 is available at

DOHMH Offers COVID-19 Testing for all NYC Residents as Test and Trace Begins

DOHMH released updated guidance on June 2 for testing individuals for COVID 19, as test and trace efforts start in New York City. The updated guidance recommends that all New York residents receive COVID-19 diagnostic testing whether they have had symptoms or are at increased risk. New York City residents seeking medical care for any reason should be offered the test, to help reduce asymptomatic transmission.

New York City’s Test & Trace program is operated by the City of New York through NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) and in collaboration with DOHMH. As the Test & Trace program launches, GNYHA will remain in continuous communication with the City, DOHMH, and NYC H+H to understand hospitals’ role in contact tracing.

The City of New York is offering free COVID-19 testing for all residents. Testing locations can be found on the COVID-19 testing webpage or by dialing 311. DOHMH emphasizes that testing is available regardless of immigration status or insurance coverage and asks providers to communicate with patients who may have concerns that COVID-19 testing is not a public benefit under the public charge rule. Updated guidance on repeat testing criteria is also provided in the guidance.