CVS, Walgreens Among Companies Boosting Free CCP Virus Testing

April 28, 2020 Updated: April 28, 2020

CVS and Walgreens are ramping up free testing for the CCP virus outside of stores across the United States, as are some other companies.

CVS will, starting next month, offer self-swab tests to people who meet criteria laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new, free testing will take place at up to 1,000 locations by the end of May, according to the company. CVS has been testing about 1,000 people a day across Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, and Michigan.

People who meet the criteria will make appointments online and visit a CVS location at a designated time, where the testing will take place in a parking lot or in a drive-through lane.

CVS hopes to test about 35,000 people a week, Larry Merlo, CVS CEO, told reporters at the White House on Monday.

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CVS CEO Larry Merlo listens during a meeting with President Donald Trump about CCP virus testing, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on April 27, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Walgreens, meanwhile, has been testing at drive-throughs in 11 states, including Texas, Arizona, and Florida. The company earlier Monday said it plans to expand to 49 states and Puerto Rico and expects to test more than 50,000 people each week.

Richard Ashworth, who oversees Walgreens in the United States, said the company will be able to triple the volume done now in the coming weeks.

“We’re really excited with the public-private partnership that we have here, because that’s what’s enabling us to do this, and we look forward to working with the additional states to get these sites up and running as fast as possible,” he said at the press conference.

Walmart, which started free drive-through testing in some locations in March, said it will expand from 20 sites across 11 states to more than 100 locations by the next of next month. The company has tested nearly 13,000 people so far and plans on doing 20,000 tests a week.

“Imagine going online, scheduling a test through our lab partners, pulling up to your local Walmart at your scheduled time, parking in your assigned spot, and having our pharmacist greet you. You take a nasal or saliva test while you remain in the car, and the test is sent to the lab for processing,” Dan Bartlett, Walmart Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, wrote in a blog post.

“For serology tests, perhaps you could even have your finger stuck by a pharmacist, similar to a test for blood glucose and cholesterol levels, to understand whether you have antibodies to the virus. We are working now on how we might make this a reality.”

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Phlebotomists draw blood from people getting tested for CCP virus antibodies at the Refuah Health Center in Spring Valley, New York, on April 24, 2020. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Kroger, which has been testing in six states, plans on expanding in the next couple of weeks to 12 states as it increases testing capacity. Kroger has performed nearly 8,000 tests in 30 locations in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Rite Aid is operating 25 testing locations across eight states and plans to increase the number of tests done in the coming weeks by expanding testing criteria to anyone 18 or older exhibiting any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.

The company is conducting about 400 tests a day.

More than 200,000 tests were done nationwide on April 25, according to President Donald Trump. That’s a doubling from earlier in the month. The administration plans on doubling the number again soon. According to Vice President Mike Pence, 5.4 million tests have been done to date, and he hopes to be doing up to 2 million a week by the end of May.

“We are continuing to rapidly expand our capacity and confident that we have enough testing to begin reopening. And the reopening process—we want to get our country open. And the testing is not going to be a problem at all. In fact, it’s going to be one of the great assets that we have,” Trump said.

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