CVS is rolling out 10 drive-through COVID-19 testing locations in Minnesota on Friday.
The effort is part of the chain's goal to get 1,000 such testing sites up and running at its drugstores nationwide by the end of this month.
The push for retail drive-through testing sites was championed by President Donald Trump and unveiled as a public-private partnership in March. The effort was initially slow to ramp up as retailers faced challenges such as coordinating with state and federal entities as well as getting access to enough testing supplies and personal protective equipment.
But the initiative is now accelerating with CVS being the most aggressive with its rollout.
Walmart has opened about 100 drive-through testing sites, including one in St. Cloud. Walgreens also has opened some, but none yet in Minnesota.
Minneapolis-based Target has said it remains committed to allowing testing sites to be set up in its parking lots, but has only one in California to date. It faces an additional challenge in setting up these sites because it does not operate its own pharmacies after selling them to CVS several years ago.
Joseph Goode, a CVS spokesman, said the chain has looked at factors such as areas that need more testing or have COVID-19 outbreaks in picking locations for the sites. It also has looked at geographic diversity and finding stores with enough space in the parking lot to operate the testing sites without disrupting store operations.
Patients have to register in advance at CVS.com to schedule an appointment and must meet criteria for testing as laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the testing sites, they must remain in their cars and will be directed to the pharmacy drive-through where they will be provided a self-swab test kit and given instructions on how to use it. A CVS pharmacy worker will observe to see that it is done properly.
Test results will be available in about three days after being sent to an independent, third-party lab.
CVS' drive-through testing sites will be mostly in the Twin Cities — in Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Edina, Hastings, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Plymouth and St. Cloud.
With the additional 10 sites opening in Minnesota this week, CVS will have testing sites operating in more than 30 states.
CVS hopes to be able to administer up to 1.5 million tests a month, subject to having enough supplies and lab capacity.
"CVS Health has been at the forefront of helping our nation scale up COVID-19 testing capabilities, and we're proud to meet our goal of establishing 1,000 testing sites in communities across the country," Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement. "Opening access to testing in more locations using our drive-through window represents an important milestone in our response to the pandemic."
Over the Memorial Day weekend, the National Guard and the Minnesota Department of Health operated six testing locations across the state. Minnesotans can find other testing locations on the state's COVID-19 response website.