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Walgreens to offer drive-thru coronavirus testing in 7 states

U.S. sees severe COVID-19 testing backlog

Walgreens on Tuesday said it would open 15 drive-thru testing sites for the coronavirus in seven states later this week.

The testing service will be made available in areas with escalating cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, the drugstore chain announced: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas. The exact locations are still being worked out in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the company.

Widespread testing for COVID-19 has been stymied by a dearth of test kits, and Walgreens' announcement comes nearly a month after President Donald Trump announced that the company and three others — CVS Health, Target and Walmart — would offer drive-thru tests in store parking lots. 

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Walmart COVID-19 testing site in Chicago area. Walmart

But rolling out those services has been slow going, with the retailers struggling along with hospitals and others to get enough protective gear for those overseeing the testing. Walmart has two testing sites in operation in the Chicago area, while Rite Aid is piloting a testing site in Philadelphia.

To be located outside of stores, Walgreens pharmacists will assist as people self-administer the Abbott Laboratory COVID-19 test, with positive results coming in as little as five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes, the company said.

Walgreens in late March opened a drive-thru testing site in the Chicago area, but limited its testing to first responders. 

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"Opening our first drive-thru testing location last month has allowed us to quickly learn and develop an efficient and scalable process, and we're pleased to be working with Abbott to help accelerate our efforts, and to enable quick results for those being tested," Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president, said in the statement.

CVS plans to open a rapid testing site in Lowell, Massachusetts, following up on a pilot last month in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. It also opened sites on Monday in Georgia and Rhode Island.

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