California now allowing pharmacist testing for COVID-19

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Healthcare workers in masks doing testing by a car.

California now allowing pharmacist testing for COVID-19

By Sandra Levy - 05/13/2020

California's latest action on COVID-19 testing is drawing praise from industry organizations. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced that the state's Department of Consumer Affairs was issuing a waiver that authorized pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests. 

In response, California Retailers Association president Rachel Michelin and National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson issued a joint statement lauding Newsom for enabling pharmacists to play a larger role in testing. 

"Governor Newsom took important action today in support of California's commitment to expand the reach of its COVID-19 testing, to advance public health, to ultimately re-open the state safely, and to prepare well for any future needs related to this virus," the statement said. 

Previously, CRA and NACDS wrote to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, urging the removal of remaining COVID-19 testing barriers on pharmacists to advance the ramp-up of testing, the well-being of Californians, and the re-opening of the state.

"Particularly as testing supplies become more commercially available, this will enable pharmacies and pharmacists to help reach more Californians – and it will certainly go a long way in reaching underserved communities," Anderson and Michelin said in the statement. 

The two organization heads noted that while these tests begin to be carried out, pharmacies and patients will need to follow appropriate safety procedures. 

"Participating pharmacies will work with the state to develop and execute their plans for testing in a safe environment while testing supplies and personal protective equipment also will need to be in place," the statement said. "There are different types of testing with different types of requirements — including some tests that must be provided outdoors. Safety and health are the top priority." They also urged patients not to immediately go to the pharmacy for a test, but to gather information about availability and procedures when announced. 

Opinion research on Californians' views on pharmacy-related COVID-19 issues found that 76% of California voters say pharmacists should be allowed to provide tests for COVID-19, and 78% say pharmacists should be allowed to provide a vaccine or other medication to protect against COVID-19, when developed.

"Pharmacies and pharmacists already have served Californians heroically throughout the response to this pandemic, including serving patients with other health concerns who were in need of a high-quality and accessible health and wellness destination," the statement said. "Pharmacies and pharmacists look forward to helping further with other needs, including the COVID-19 testing that is the subject of today's announcement, and administering a vaccine or other preventive measure when one is developed. It is critical to keep planning and preparing, and we appreciate Gov. Newsom's action today."