Walgreens To Begin First Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing This Weekend For First Responders .

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Walgreens is opening up its first testing site for the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 at a drive-thru location in the Chicago area as drugstores across the country slowly and carefully begin a rollout of diagnostics for the historic disease outbreak.

The Walgreens site, at a yet to be disclosed location, is for those on “the front lines” including first responders and healthcare workers. Bloomberg News also reported Walmart was preparing to roll out COVID-19 testing in parking lots and hiring more workers.

Walgreens COVID-19 testing effort follows an announcement by CVS Health that it, too, was rolling out its first site in Massachusetts and both efforts are considered good news given the slow response to testing for the virus in the U.S. compared to other countries. And it’s also a sign retail drugstores are holding to their commitment to quickly ramp up testing in parking lots and other areas outside their stores following a White House meeting last week.

“This weekend we anticipate our first drive-thru testing site will be activated in the Chicago area,” Walgreens said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Initially, Walgreens said the site will be “state-run and federally supported” COVID-19 testing only for those “on the front lines of the pandemic, including first responders and health care workers.” Then, following the first-responders, Walgreens said its Chicago area testing site will be for the “most vulnerable citizens, including those over age 65.”

The initial Walgreens site, much like the site opened by CVS Health, won’t be available to the general public. Over time, drugstore giants plan to open more sites and eventually make testing available to the broader public.

CVS, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Walmart, Target and Rite Aid last week pledged in a White House meeting to aid the federal government and local health officials in providing access to COVID-19 testing.

“This is a critical time for our country, and COVID-19 response requires collaboration across industries and sectors,” Walgreens said. “Walgreens is proud to be playing an instrumental role in this public-private partnership, and to do everything we can to help ensure the health and well-being of Americans during the pandemic. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”