April 7, 2020 / 12:26 PM / 2 months ago

Walgreens to expand drive-through coronavirus testing sites

(Reuters) - Walgreens Boots Alliance is launching 15 “drive-thru” testing sites for coronavirus infections, the company said on Tuesday, as it follows up on a pledge it made to work with the Trump Administration on expanding diagnostic centers.

Like CVS Health Corp, which said on Monday it was launching two offsite testing locations, Walgreens will also use Abbott Laboratories’s faster test kits, allowing the drugstore chain to do 3,000 tests per day across the sites.

CVS had said it would be able to handle 1,000 tests per day.

Abbott’s tests deliver results in as little as five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes, Walgreens said, adding that it would set up centers in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

It is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to finalize the 15 locations in these states.

Testing for COVID-19, the serious respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, has been slow in the United States due to a lack of test kits and other equipment.

While more than 300,000 people in America have tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials believe there are the undercounted cases because of a shortage of kits.

Testing, including at drive-through sites like these, is also seen as key in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to sweeping shutdowns of many businesses and mass layoffs.

Other major retailers including Walmart Inc, Target Corp and CVS Health Corp pledged at a White House news conference in March to provide space for drive-through sites in their parking lots.

Walmart has one testing site in Chicago and is opening another pilot site in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Reporting by Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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