CVS, in partnership with government agencies, is adding two drive-through coronavirus testing sites less than a week after CNN reported on the anemic progress of a program President Trump touted as part of his solution to expand testing.
The retailer announced it’s using a new rapid coronavirus test, which can provide results in less than 15 minutes and was approved by US Food and Drug Administration under an emergency authorization last week, according to a company press release.
Its two new locations — in Georgia and Rhode Island — will utilize licensed health care providers from its MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, to oversee the testing, said the press release. The retailer made clear that the sites will not be located at CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic locations.
Some background: Under fire for the lack of testing, the Trump administration on March 13 announced a public-private partnership between the government and major retailers including CVS, Target, Walmart and Walgreens. Vice President Mike Pence said the program “laid the foundation” to help meet the nation’s testing needs by giving a “little bit of their parking lot so that people can come by and do a drive-by test.”
But the administration’s celebrated announcement hasn’t come close to being fulfilled.
While these retailers have approximately 30,000 locations combined, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed last week that only five locations from these major retailers were offering drive-thru testing — and none are open to the general public at the time. Instead, the sites were only testing healthcare workers and first responders. The one site CVS previously opened in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts was also testing senior citizens with symptoms.
After CNN’s story on March 31, Walmart announced a plan to open a drive-thru coronavirus testing site for first responders and healthcare workers in Arkansas — it’s third location in the U.S.
For its two new locations, CVS will not be using its parking lot. Instead it worked with local government officials to identify parking lots that are easily accessible and able to accommodate multiple lanes of cars at one time: one at a multi-level parking garage at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The other — in Rhode Island — will be located at Twin Rivers Casino.
Unlike previously opened testing drive throughs, the new CVS locations will be testing a broader population. People who meet US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to state residency and age guidelines, are eligible for testing. Patients will need to pre-register in advance online at CVS.com in order to schedule a same-day time slot for testing, said the release.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report