ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Coronavirus testing at retail locations around the country is expanding as a key part of the strategy to reopen the country, better track infections, isolate sick people and get healthy people back to work, Bloomberg reports.
The U.S. government has been widely criticized for failing to quickly implement a national testing strategy. The Centers for Disease Control is expected to release new guidelines widening testing criteria to people without symptoms but who work in high-risk settings. Research shows that people without symptoms or who have yet to develop them may be able to spread the disease.
As previous reported in NACS Daily, CVS Health, part of the U.S. drugstore chain, has been testing for COVID-19 at more than 1,000 locations in five states. The company said it hopes to be able to conduct 1.5 million tests a month, pending availability of supplies and lab capacity.
The federal government plans to partner with CVS, as well as Rite Aid, Walmart, Target and Walgreens Boots Alliance, to provide drive-thru testing in the retailers’ parking lots.
In addition, Kroger Health, a division of The Kroger Co., will expand its drive-thru COVID-19 testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 states to perform as many as 100,000 tests by the end of May, the company reports.
To date, Kroger Health has performed nearly 8,000 tests in 30 locations in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The company has also launched a pilot for site-specific testing for company associates in Colorado and Michigan.
A key enabler of this expansion is pharmacists’ ability to order and administer testing. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that licensed pharmacists were permitted to order and administer COVID-19 tests that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized.
Using the HHS-recommended testing model, Kroger Health performs about 250 to 330 tests per day. Patients remain in their cars, and tests are completed in just minutes.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.