CVS Health announced new initiatives in three states to help combat the COVID-19 crisis.
The company has joined forces with state and federal officials to open rapid drive-through COVID-19 testing sites in Georgia and Rhode Island. They join a previously opened testing site in Massachusetts.
CVS Health also will provide pop-up pharmacy support for a temporary COVID-19 medical monitoring facility at the New Orleans Convention Center.
In Georgia and Rhode Island, CVS Health will utilize licensed health care providers from MinuteClinic, the company's retail medical clinic, to oversee the COVID-19 testing, which is currently available at no cost to patients. The company said it is applying the learnings gathered from its COVID-19 testing site opened in Shrewsbury, Mass. on March 19, to help maximize the efficiency and safety at these new sites. For example, testing at these new sites will be held in large parking lots that are easily accessible and able to accommodate multiple lanes of cars at one time and will require eligible individuals to pre-register online. COVID-19 testing will not take place at CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic locations.
"Our MinuteClinic providers join countless other heroic health care professionals across the country and around the world in forming the first line of defense against this devastating virus," said Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer and executive vice president, CVS Health. "Thanks to our partnerships with state officials and the utilization of advanced technology, our providers will be able to test large numbers of people in these states and make real-time decisions about treatment and appropriate next steps."
The rapid testing will be conducted using the new Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test, which recently received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of COVID-19. Positive results can be delivered in as little as five minutes and negative results in as little as 13 minutes.
"Increased access to rapid testing remains one of our top priorities in order to identify more cases, get Georgians the care they need, and prevent further infection in our communities," said Governor Brian Kemp. "This unique, public-private partnership will strengthen our testing capability as we continue to take the fight to COVID-19 in Georgia, and we are grateful for CVS Health's support to stop the spread of the virus."
"Today marks a giant leap forward in our efforts to combat this virus. Thanks to the partnership and generosity of CVS Health, we will be able to double our testing capacity and provide on-the-spot results to thousands of Rhode Islanders each day. Making testing rapid and readily available is the key to slowly reopening our economy, and today we are one step closer to that goal," said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.
Rapid COVID-19 testing will be available to eligible individuals who meet criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to state residency and age guidelines. Patients will need to pre-register in advance online at CVS.com in order to schedule a same-day time slot for testing.
The test site will be located at Georgia Tech (352 Peachtree Place, Atlanta, Ga., 30332) in Georgia and at Twin River Casino (100 Twin River Road, Lincoln, R.I., 02865) in Rhode Island. For more information and to register for a test, patients can visit CVS.com.
In coordination with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edward’s administration, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and state health officials, CVS Health also established a temporary CVS Pharmacy to support the medical monitoring facility inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The move is part of a larger state plan to use the convention center as a 1,000 bed coronavirus facility designed to ease the strain on New Orleans area hospitals preparing to treat an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients.
The ‘pop up’ CVS Pharmacy, which will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily from an off-site location near the convention center, includes a rotating group of 26 full-and part-time CVS Health pharmacists and pharmacist technicians. They will assist with providing maintenance medication and offering counseling where needed for COVID-19 patients who do not require a ventilator or ICU and have been transferred from New Orleans area hospitals to the convention center, in an effort to increase hospital capacity for more severe COVID-19 cases.
The temporary pharmacy is not open to the general public, and is in place to deliver dedicated support to the state’s medical monitoring facility.
“We’ve demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting the citizens of New Orleans, especially in times of need,” said Jeffrey Schmidt, CVS Health senior vice president. “Pharmacies are a critical resource for communities managing through the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ll continue to be here for customers and patients in New Orleans and throughout the country.”
CVS Health said it has continued to support the New Orleans community in times of urgent need. Most recently, the company delivered $25,000 grants to both Second Harvest Food Bank and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. These grants are in addition to a $250,000 contribution to Feeding America, which is responding to the pandemic by distributing emergency food boxes to its network of 200 food banks in New Orleans and across the country to support vulnerable populations.