Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens are making major efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) that go beyond their typical retail and pharmacy services. The retailers will implement drive-thru coronavirus testing centers in the parking lots of their stores throughout the U.S., although it is not yet known how many stores will host testing.
The decisions were made after President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency at a White House press conference on March 13. Among others, top execs from these retailers joined Trump at the conference, including:
- Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart;
- Brian Connell, CEO of Target;
- Thomas Moriarty, EVP of Chief Policy, External Affairs Officer and General Counsel at CVS Health; and
- Richard Ashworth, President of Walgreens.
“We have been asked to make portions of our parking lot available in select locations in the beginning and scaling over time as the supply increases so that people can experience the drive-thru experience that the president described,” McMillon said during the press conference. “We’ll stay involved and do everything we can from a supply chain point of view to be of assistance.”
McMillon said his company would add more of its parking lots as the availability of the test grows.
In a statement emailed to Business Insider, a CVS spokesperson said “individuals being tested will not have to leave their cars.”
Top execs at select laboratory, research and medical device companies also joined Trump, who said that he has called on the labs to expedite efforts to increase the availability of tests for COVID-19. One of them was Matt Sause, President and CEO North America of Roche Diagnostics, which gained expedited approval for coronavirus testing from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 13.
The U.S. has significantly lagged other countries in testing (measured on a per capita basis) for COVID-19. Vice President Mike Pence and Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said there would be 1.9 million tests available this week across 2,000 labs in an effort to ramp up testing.
Brian Dodge, President of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said that leading retailers are doing everything they can to help stop the spread of the virus.
“Utilizing parking lots and partnering with the government to expedite testing is paramount right now as everyone works to ensure public health and safety,” Dodge said in a statement. “This is an unprecedented situation that demands an all hands-on deck approach, and community retailers are eager to do their part.”
Jack Ma To Donate 1 Million Masks, 500,000 Testing Kits
In addition to retailers at home, Alibaba founder Jack Ma has pledged to assist U.S. health care workers in a big way, sourcing and donating 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits and 1 million protective masks. Through the Jack Ma Foundation, Ma already has donated materials to combat COVID-19 in afflicted areas in Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.
“Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” Ma said in a statement. “We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!”