CVS Health boosts coronavirus self-swab testing as White House eyes economic restart

White House officials met with executives from CVS Health, Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid and several other firms on Monday

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CVS Health said Monday it is expanding its self-swab COVID-19 testing capabilities as part of an ongoing partnership between the White House, pharmacies and retailers to make tests more accessible during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it will begin offering self-swap tests at some locations in May, with plans to equip up to 1,000 stores by the end of the month. CVS Health stores are expected to be capable of conducting 1.5 million tests per month, depending on supplies and lab availability.

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The tests will be scheduled online and conducted in parking lots and drive-thru windows at CVS Health stores. Individuals will have to meet U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention criteria in order to be tested. CVS Health employees to wear personal protective equipment while collecting samples.

"Our industry has been united by the unique role we can play in addressing the pandemic and protecting people's health," said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health. "We all share the same goal, and that's dramatically increasing the frequency and efficiency of testing so we can slow the spread of the virus and start to responsibly reopen the economy when experts tell us it's safe."

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White House officials met with executives from CVS Health, Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid and several other firms on Monday to discuss efforts to ramp up self-swap coronavirus testing. Federal and state lawmakers have identified enhanced testing as a key requirement of efforts to re-open the U.S. economy following a weeks-long shutdown.

The companies have teamed up with the White House since March to facilitate testing at centers around the country. Vice President Mike Pence touted the public-private partnership at the event, noting the U.S. has conducted more than 5.4 million coronavirus tests to date.

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CVS Health said it is working with several groups, including the National Medical Association, to improve testing access for minority communities that have been disproportionately affected by the outbreak. The company said it is developing other methods, such as mobile test centers, to aid those efforts.

Alongside its meeting with company executives, the White House unveiled a blueprint for states to ramp up coronavirus testing in the coming weeks. The document noted the federal government should serve as “a supplier of last resort,” with states responsible for implementing testing plans on the ground and acquiring the necessary supplies.

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