CVS Health has opened its first drive-up coronavirus testing location in Shrewsbury, Mass., where it will test first responders such as firefighters and nurses for the disease for free. Walmart, Target and Walgreens also have pledged to offer testing, but have not yet announced when or where their locations will be opened.
State and public health officials can refer people to the site for testing, where they can drive up to different stations in their cars for temperature checks and a nasal swab. A private lab analyzes the tests and provides results in 48 hours.
The CVS store hosting the site has been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and simplify the process of running the tests. It will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is expected to handle 12 tests per hour. The retailer may open additional locations, including sites open to the public, but CVS has not yet revealed its plans.
“This is our first experience endeavoring this type of testing outside of one of our store locations,” said Joe Good, Director, Corporate Public Relations at CVS in an interview with CNBC. “There were a lot of operational challenges. We wanted to make sure that we staged this testing site properly. We worked with local officials. There are a lot of things to consider operationally to make sure that the site was truly ready for patients.”
The four retailers initially announced their plans to open testing centers during a March 13 White House press conference. The event was held to announce government plans to enlist help from the private sector to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Normally, you would view us as competitors, but today we’re focused on a common competitor and that’s defeating the spread of the coronavirus,” said Brian Cornell, CEO of Target during the press conference. “We look forward to working with the administration to do our fair share to alleviate this growing threat.”