Walgreens, Target, CVS and Walmart to offer COVID-19 testing
Tue 17/03/2020 – 14:39
Walgreens, Target, Walmart and CVS have pledged to offer COVID-19 testing as the United States takes measures to curb the novel coronavirus’ spread.
(Author : Gabriella Lacombe)
As part of the testing plan, the retailers will allow portions of their parking lot space and other areas outside of their stores to be used temporarily for testing, including drive-through testing.
These actions were announced after President Donald Trump met with executives from the companies, alongside executives from testing companies LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics and Roche Diagnostics and top health officials, on Friday. That same day, Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency. President Trump further announced that 500,000 new coronavirus tests will become available in the coming days, and up to 5 million new tests within a month.
As of 2019, Walmart operates 4,769 stores in the United States, while Target operates over 1,800, CVS over 6,200, and Walgreens over 9,200. Walmart, CVS and Walgreens all run their own in-house pharmacies, while Target, which sold its pharmacy business to CVS in 2015, runs small CVS pharmacies inside many of its stores. Last week, cities in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and Washington opened drive-through coronavirus testing stations.
Meanwhile, South Korea has been praised by health experts for implementing wide-spread, fast and free drive-through COVID-19 testing early on.
According to an NPR report, South Korea’s new cases have gradually declined since the end of last month, and as of March 13, the number of patients released from treatment for the virus outnumbered the number of new cases in the country for the first time since January 20.
As of this report, over 3,800 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the United Sates and at least 74 have died. Despite these numbers, access to testing has become an issue of frustration for many Americans who have tried to get tested and been turned away due to a limited number of available tests. In recent weeks, the amount of available tests have caused U.S. health professionals to only test individuals who meet strict criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the outbreak develops, experts from the World Health Organization have continued to emphasize the importance of mass testing.
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement released on March 16. “we have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing – which is the backbone of the response.
“Social distancing measures can help to reduce transmission and enable health systems to cope. Handwashing and coughing into your elbow can reduce the risk for yourself and others. But on their own, they are not enough to extinguish this pandemic. It’s the combination that makes the difference. As I keep saying, all countries must take a comprehensive approach…Test every suspected case.”