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Walgreens working to expand drive-thru testing in Illinois

A nurse at a drive-up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington Medical Center wears a face shield and other protective gear as she waits March 13 by a tent in Seattle. Experts and health officials who are trying to plan a response to the coronavirus outbreak are missing a critical piece of information – the number of health care workers who have tested positive for the disease. Washington state faced the first major outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation, but health officials have not kept track of how many doctors and nurses have the disease. New York also lacks infection figures for medical staff, according to Jill Montag, spokeswoman with the New York State Department of Health.
A nurse at a drive-up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington Medical Center wears a face shield and other protective gear as she waits March 13 by a tent in Seattle. Experts and health officials who are trying to plan a response to the coronavirus outbreak are missing a critical piece of information – the number of health care workers who have tested positive for the disease. Washington state faced the first major outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation, but health officials have not kept track of how many doctors and nurses have the disease. New York also lacks infection figures for medical staff, according to Jill Montag, spokeswoman with the New York State Department of Health.

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Walgreens is working to expand drive-thru testing to Illinois using Abbott Laboratories’ new COVID-19 test, it announced Thursday.

The company wants to provide drive-thru testing to 15 new sites in seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

Abbott Laboratories, headquartered in Abbott Park, recently announced that it developed a test that can detect positive COVID-19 results in as little as 5 minutes. Negative results will take 13 minutes.

The to-be-announced 15 Walgreens drive-thru testing locations are being finalized in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and are being planned for select hot-spot markets with escalating rates of COVID-19 cases, according to Walgreens. With these additional sites, Walgreens plans to be able to test up to 3,000 people a day. The sites are expected to be activated beginning later this week.

“Walgreens remains committed to working with federal, state and local governments, as well as industry partners to meet the needs of the communities we serve across the country during the pandemic,” Walgreens President Richard Ashworth said in a statement. “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.”

Walgreens will dedicate temporary space at select locations, outside of the stores, where Walgreens pharmacists will oversee the self-administration of the COVID-19 test. Patients soon will be be directed to testing locations with an online assessment tool that will be available on Walgreens.com and its mobile app.

Testing will be available at no cost to eligible individuals who meet criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients will need to register to schedule an appointment for testing.

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