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The state has a new way to test for COVID-19 | Here's how it works

The state is using Curative mouth swabs to test for the novel coronavirus.

AUSTIN, Texas —

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) added a new way it's testing for COVID-19.

It’s now a mouth swab at some sites. Other sites will continue to use nasal swab.

Video from a Central Texan, Giovanna De Leon, shows what it’s like to take the test.

“I’ll be assisting you with vocal instruction on how to perform the swab this afternoon,” announced the collection team worker.

The test is from Curative Inc.

“I scanned a QR code. I got an application and basically [provided] name, date of birth, where I live,” said De Leon.

De Leon lined up at a table with about eight others to get walked through how to self-administer the test.

“You’re going to open up the bag. There’s going to be an arrow on top of it,” said the worker.

The equipment for the test includes a plastic bag, a plastic tube with liquid, a swab and a piece of cotton.

To begin, a person will be told to cough a few times, then lower the mask and use the swab. The swab is rubbed inside both cheeks, on the upper and lower gums, on top of the tongue, under the tongue and on the roof of the mouth.

“It was a lot easier than the nasal test,” said De Leon. 

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Once done using the swab, it’s put in the tube. Then, a person is directed to turn the tube and swab over a few times to mix with the liquid.

The Curative makers point out:

  • Don’t let the swab touch any external surface to avoid contamination and an error on the test result.
  • Don’t eat, drink or brush your teeth at least 20 minutes before taking the test.

“It was convenient. I just didn't like the process of having to get down and having contact with people. You were not 6 feet apart,” said De Leon.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management said social distancing protocols are in place.

“Because this type of test can be administered to a group of individuals at one time, the mobile testing teams have social distancing protocols in place. Additionally, patients and team members are masked from the entrance of the test site onwards, should any social distancing protocols be infringed,” said Seth W. Christensen, J.D., chief of media and communications, TDEM.


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TDEM sends the specimen overnight to Curative’s labs. 

A spokesperson for Curative said the turnaround time is 24 hours and results are emailed to the patient directly.

The QR code De Leon described is the recommended way to register on-site.

“The mobile testing teams are prepared to register individuals in-person at the walk-up sites for anyone who is unable to pre-register. The QR codes aid the teams with the needed data entry to ensure that a vast majority of the information collected is entered before the individual presents for their test collection. This is a time-saving process,” said Christensen.


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