More people are taking tests for coronavirus after Rite Aid’s new drive up testing site opened Wednesday in the Portage Lakes area.
Chris Altman, Rite Aid’s manager of clinical programs, said pharmacists play a key role in health care for many people. With a need for testing growing, he said Rite Aid recognized it needed to help in the coronavirus pandemic.
“We take it very personally that we are trying to take care of our communities,” Altman said.
Wednesday morning, several tents, a shipping container and cones were used to create the drive up testing site in Rite Aid’s parking lot at the South Main Street store near Turkeyfoot Lake Road in Green. Around 10:30 a.m., two to three cars came in at a time, pulling into the different stations like an assembly line.
At the end of the lane, a pharmacist stood at a safe distance and directed a patient on how to complete the self-swab test. After it was over, the patients would drive through the parking lot and leave, awaiting to be contacted with the results three to five days later.
Altman said Rite Aid is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set up 25 testing locations in eight states, testing about 5,000 people each day. Altman said factors like the need for testing, and the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community determine where testing sites are set up, along with practical reasons like where Rite Aid stores are, and what kind of room they have.
Altman said the expectation is to test 200 people a day at each site, but the pharmacy chain is not releasing exact numbers of tests.
To be eligible for testing, patients must meet guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control, and register for an appointment online at riteaid.com
Patients must enter basic personal information and take an online screening test before making an appointment.
The test will ask if you’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or if you’ve traveled to China, Iran, South Korea or Europe. The test also asks if you work in a prison, healthcare facility or as a first responder. Age, current symptoms, and health conditions are also on the test.
Altman said the company is trying to keep the process simple. The online registration and screening should take five to 10 minutes, and the actual testing process should take about five, he said.
The company is also spacing out testing with appointments to avoid long lines. Altman said anyone getting a test must sign up online beforehand.
The test will be done by the patient using a self swab, and a pharmacist will be there to guide people through testing. People being tested will remain in their cars the entire time.
Altman said the process has evolved since Rite Aid opened its first site in Pennsylvania, and it is expected to keep changing.
At its first testing site, Altman said, Rite Aid used a long swab that went into the back of the nose. The self swab, he said, does not go as far and is much less invasive.
Rite Aid doesn’t have any plans as of yet to open more locations. Altman said it will work with HHS to determine if any more locations open in the future.
Bioreference Laboratories will do the actual testing of the kits. Altman said the results will be reported to the patient, and the local health agencies depending on where the location is.
Altman said the testing supplies are being purchased by Rite Aid through its own vendors, and is partnering with HHS to receive the supplies.