Free coronavirus drive-thru testing site opens in Durham
Posted May 1, 2020 4:45 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2020 8:27 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — A Durham Walgreens is among the first pharmacies nationwide to offer free coronavirus testing.
The Walgreens at 3798 Guess Road is among 21 sites in 13 states that now offer drive-thru tests for the virus. Spokesman Phil Caruso said Walgreens works with federal health officials to select sites and eventually plans to have them in 49 states and Puerto Rico.
"Once all the sites are fully operational, we expect to be able to test about 50,000 people per week," Caruso said in an email.
CVS is also offering testing in some states, but not in North Carolina.
Kathleen Jaeger, senior vice president for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said pharmacies are ready to help their communities through testing.
"We really need to scale testing across the United States, and so it’s fantastic that we’re seeing some ramp up in North Carolina," Jaeger said. "Pharmacies are located in every community, and we know that health is local. So, we know that all the pharmacies really want to serve their members to the very best of their ability."
People have complete a screening online before they can get approval to be tested. If eligible, they must then make an appointment.
During the test, which is a self-administered nasal swab, they are asked to stay inside their vehicles. A pharmacist will be nearby to answer questions and offer guidance.
Walgreens will share the results of the test with public health officials, and the patient will learn results in 24 hours.
"I think that’s fantastic," Durham resident Dave Bjorkback said. "The more people that we can get tested, hopefully then we can get more accurate numbers, and when there’s more accurate numbers, we’ll have a better idea to know when it’s safe to reopen things."
Bjorkback said he has asthma, which puts him at higher risk for COVID-19, the illness associated with the coronavirus.
"The testing is crucial. It’s really important," he said. "The more people we can get tested, I think, the better it’s going to help the epidemiologists. They’ll have better numbers to work with."
Durham County Health Director said the site "will help make testing more accessible for our first responders, medical providers, high-risk individuals and all Durham County residents with symptoms."
People don't have to live in Durham County to get tested at the Walgreens site, however. The testing is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.