Drive-thru coronavirus test sites popping up slowly across America

Drive-thru coronavirus test sites popping up slowly across America

DANBURY: Drive-thru coronavirus testing sites are starting to pop up across the United States but few if any are at the major retail stores that pledged last week to provide parking lot space for them.

On Wednesday, many Americans with suspected coronavirus infections were heading to drive-thru testing sites at hospitals, with their doctor’s referral. They were met by healthcare workers in protective gear, swabbing their noses through an open window.

The goal is to ramp up testing, the lack of which has been a major obstacle to understanding the extent of the pandemic, reduce pressure on emergency rooms and keep patients in cars to avoid spreading the infection.

Leading U.S. retailers, such as Walmart Inc, Target Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance and CVS Health Corp pledged at a White House news conference last Friday to provide space for the drive-thru sites in their parking lots.

Admiral Brett Giroir of the U.S. Public Health Commission told reporters in Washington on Tuesday drive-thru test centers were “blossoming all over the country.” But he added the initiative had faced some early challenges.

The public health commission was “really pushing equipment” to 47 centers in a dozen states, after doing a trial run on Monday with public health staff in protective gear, Giroir said. About 140 U.S. public health staff would be deployed to the sites along with state health workers, he said.

“We had a lot of kinks in the system, as you can expect,” he added. “That’s why we do a test before we go out into the field … They’re going to be adapted to the state and the local situation, but we’re very confident that these will add testing to the already very robust healthcare system.”

CVS spokesman TJ Crawford said the pharmacy chain was preparing this week to launch a pilot drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of a Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, CVS Pharmacy. Initial testing would be limited to first responders and local healthcare professionals who are on the frontlines of treating the virus and preventing its spread, he said.