COVID-19 Drive-Thru Rapid Testing at Some CVS, Walgreens

Free drive-thru testing will soon be available in several states, which could provide results in as little as 5 to 15 minutes.

By Carolyn Crist

April 9, 2020 - Free drive-thru testing will soon be available in several states, which could provide results in as little as 5 to 15 minutes. On Tuesday, CVS Health announced new testing sites in Georgia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while Walgreens announced 15 new sites in seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

The locations are being prepared now and should be active later this week, Walgreens said in a statement. Limited appointments are available to those who meet CDC criteria for testing, such as high-risk patients. Results are typically ready in less than 15 minutes, Walgreens said, though the wait time may take longer depending on the number of people on site, CVS said.

Patients can now register on the CVS website to see if they qualify, select a test site, and reserve an appointment time. A Walgreens portal will be available soon.

Using Abbott Laboratories' rapid COVID-19 test, Walgreens plans to test up to 3,000 people per day across the new sites, and CVS plans to test up to 1,000, according to CNBC.

While patients remain in their cars, CVS or Walgreens workers will insert a swab up the nose to collect nasal secretions. Sometimes the patient may be asked to swab their own noses, CVS said.

On its registration site, CVS posted a list of frequently asked questions to help patients. Testing is only available as a drive-thru, and for the safety of the workers, patients can't walk in for a test. Since tests are limited, those from other states can't visit the testing sites, even if high-risk. A government-issued ID will be checked at the site before testing. At this time, all appointments are same-day timeslots only.

CVS launched a pilot site in Shrewsbury, MA, on March 19.

"Our initial experience in Massachusetts has enabled us to expand testing into other states while maximizing efficiency and safety," Troyen Brennan, MD, chief medical officer and executive vice president of CVS Health, said in the announcement.

The other CVS sites will be at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, and Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI. The 15 Walgreens locations are being finalized with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will be located in "hot spot markets" with increasing rates of COVID-19 cases.

During a White House news conference in March, CSV, Walgreen, Walmart and Target pledged to provide space for drive-through sites in their parking lots, according to Reuters. Walmart has one testing site in Chicago and is opening another pilot site in Bentonville, AR, the news service reported.

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SOURCE: WebMD, April 9, 2020.