(Reuters) – CVS Health Corp said that it will launch two new drive-through COVID-19 testing sites in Georgia and Rhode Island on Monday using new, faster tests than had previously been available, with up to four more locations to follow.
The company said both drive-through testing sites will use testing equipment made by Abbott Laboratories that can deliver results within minutes. It expects to be able to perform around 1,000 tests per day at each site.
“We want to get some experience under our belt with these sites and understand exactly sort of what the volume looks like. And we’ll also be improving the logistics associated with each of the sites over time,” CVS Chief Medical Officer Troy Brennan said in an interview.
Brennan said the company expects to announce a third testing site in a different state on Tuesday and could launch up to three more sites afterward.
CVS was part of a group of U.S. retailers that pledged at a White House news conference on March 13 to open the testing sites in their parking lots. CVS has only opened one drive-through testing site, in the parking lot of a CVS Pharmacy in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Brennan said CVS was basically “shutting down that other model” of a single lane drive-through in the parking lot of one of its stores. A CVS spokeswoman said the Shrewsbury site is still operational, but the company is evaluating how and when to transition to this new model in Massachusetts.
The new testing sites will not be located in CVS parking lots. Instead, one will be located at Georgia Tech university and the other will be in the parking lot of a casino in Rhode Island.
CVS will supply personnel from its MinuteClinic unit to oversee the testing. The states will provide security and protective equipment.
The testing is currently available at no cost to patients, CVS said.
“Right now, the federal government’s paying for these tests and will do so for a specific duration of time,” Brennan said. “Then we’ll develop the capability to bill insurance.”
Patients will need to pre-register in advance online at CVS.com in order to schedule a same-day time slot for testing, the company said. Testing at the sites is for eligible individuals who meet criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to state residency and age guidelines.
Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Nick Zieminski
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