Retail’s COVID-19 drive-through testing is not going according to plan
Retailers are starting to open drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites to the public for the first time. Are they ready?
On March 13, the CEOs of Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens joined President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden to reveal they would be hosting drive-thru testing in their parking lots. Only five have opened so far — three by CVS, two from Walmart and one by Rite Aid. The slow start reflects the nation’s challenges when it comes to providing testing access.
Insufficient supplies of testing components such as nasal swabs has hampered testing at hospitals, according to a late-March survey of health providers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). With outside labs overwhelmed, test results are often delayed by a week or more.
In most cases, the testing sites opened by retailers have been reserved for first responders due to the test shortages. As a result, coronavirus testing has remained largely unavailable to the masses.
Last week, however, CVS opened its first three testing sites for the public, and Walgreens announced plans to open 15.
Both will be using Abbott Laboratories’ new “rapid” ID Now COVID-19 test, which delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes. Store pharmacists will be overseeing the testing.
Lessons incorporated in initial pilots of testing centers will be used to maximize the efficiency and safety at the new sites. CVS said the testing will take place in large parking lots able to accommodate multiple lanes of cars at one time and will require eligible individuals to pre-register online. Walgreens plans to introduce an online assessment tool.
All testing is free and by appointment only. Prospective patients must provide a doctor’s note or fill out an assessment from either chain’s website verifying that they have COVID-19 symptoms to qualify.
The retailers are expected to supplement the efforts of medical facilities. “We’re continuing to do everything we can, both with our own resources and also by partnering with others, to serve as an access point within the community for COVID-19 testing,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens’ president, in a statement.
- CVS Health expands rapid COVID-19 drive-through testing sites into Massachusetts – CVS Health
- CVS Health announces opening of rapid COVID-19 drive-through testing sites in Georgia and Rhode Island – CVS Health
- Walgreens Expanding Drive-Thru Testing To 15 New Locations in Seven States – Walgreens
- Hospital Experiences Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of a National Pulse Survey March 23–27, 2020 – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Hospitals Struggle With Testing, Protective Gear, Report Finds – Bloomberg
- Rapid-Results COVID-19 Testing Is Coming to CVS and Walgreens — but There Are Still Restrictions – People
- Walgreens to open 15 drive-thru testing sites for the coronavirus across 7 states – CNBC
- Stepping Up and Helping Out: How We’re Supporting Coronavirus Testing Efforts – Walmart
- Target’s coronavirus response – Target
- Colorado’s Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Faces Early Challenges – U.S. News & World Report
- Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Conference – The White House
- Rite Aid Joins White House COVID-19 Response Working Group – Rite Aid
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What challenges do you expect retailers to face rolling out COVID-19 testing? Is retail a viable solution? Will testing centers disrupt each store’s role in providing essential needs to Americans?