CVS, Walgreens among retail chains expanding free coronavirus testing

CVS, Walgreens among retail chains expanding free coronavirus testing
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CVS Health and Walgreens were among the retail chains announcing Monday that they will expand free coronavirus testing offered through their stores.

CVS said that it will “offer self-swab tests to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria" beginning in May.  The drugstore chain has offered large-scale testing in five states since March, while the expanded self-swab testing will expand to as many as 1,000 locations — just over 10 percent of its stores — by the end of May, USA Today reported.

The company will allow patients to schedule tests online. The tests will be conducted in parking lots or drive-thru windows, with a goal of processing 1.5 million tests a month, according to the newspaper.

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"Employees participating in the test collection process will maintain safety using personal protective equipment and follow sanitization protocols after each test," CVS said in a statement.

Walgreens, meanwhile, announced it will establish free drive-thru nasal testing in 49 states and Puerto Rico, although it was unclear how many locations will offer tests. Once the program is fully up and running, the company has a target of testing more than 50,000 people a week, according to USA Today.

The chain will “focus its efforts on improving access to testing in underserved communities, and over time will also be working with companies to provide testing to employees, to help more businesses reopen in the weeks and months ahead,” Walgreens said.

Walmart, which began opening free drive-thru test sites in mid-March, plans an expansion to more than 100 by the end of May, allowing it to test 20,000 people per week. The company said it has tested nearly 13,000 people so far, USA Today noted.

Grocery chain Kroger will also expand drive-thru testing, offering the option at 50 locations across 12 states with a goal of 100,000 tests by late May, according to the newspaper.

Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House's coronavirus task force, called the expansion of testing the kind of innovation that would be necessary to reach adequate testing capacity.

"I think we really understood that you've got to bring the tests to the community, whether it's drive-thru, whether it's walk-thru, the community has to feel like tests are available to them," she said on Fox News's "Fox & Friends" Tuesday. "So just having it at hospitals or clinics was not going to be enough. And so, that part of this is critically important to expand community testing."