Two federally operated drive-up coronavirus testing sites opened yesterday in Walmart Supercenter parking lots in the Chicago area.
The COVID-19 test locations will serve first responders and health care workers who have potentially been exposed to the virus, according to Del Sloneker, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness.
Currently, the two pilot sites aren’t open to the general public. Sloneker said the program stems from the public-private partnership that the White House announced over a week ago to support drive-through coronavirus testing sites.
“We are extremely grateful to every doctor, nurse, pharmacist, EMT and other health and emergency professional who is selflessly supporting the response. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) criteria will help provide critical testing for these essential workers who are on the front lines of the outbreak,” he said in a blog post on Sunday.
The sites are staffed by HHS and other health care and emergency workers, including Walmart pharmacists who volunteered to assist with the testing, Sloneker reported.
“We have worked closely with public health care officials to prioritize the health and safety of our associates and those visiting our parking lots,” he said. “Those volunteering will be equipped with proper protective equipment, and all patients will be required to remain in their cars at all times. As these two pilot locations begin testing, we know that they will help us better understand how we can best support and supplement state efforts moving forward.”
Walmart posted an online video of the drive-up COVID-19 testing that shows consumers in cars lined up to receive tests, health care workers taking down their information and providing information about the tests, and then the swab tests being administered by personnel in protective gear.
“We appreciate the support we have received from federal health officials, local law enforcement and elected officials. This has truly been a team effort, and these sites wouldn’t be possible were it not for everyone working together for a common goal in support of our communities,” said Sloneker. “I couldn’t be prouder of how Walmart associates have stepped up in the last week to help secure supplies and personnel to support the sites. Our pharmacists and other health professionals stand ready to train others and administer the testing to help scale as quickly as possible in the areas that are hardest hit. We know testing is important, and we are in active conversations with state officials to see where we can add the most value.”
Also, on Monday, Walmart announced that its plan to hire 150,000 associates to help with the company’s coronavirus response will include full-time, part-time and temporary positions in distribution centers (DCs) and fulfillment centers (FCs).
“Our supply chain associates have been so vital to Walmart’s ability to serve customers and communities during this time, and I am so proud of every one of them,” stated Greg Smith, head of supply chain for Walmart. “We’re growing, expanding and looking for more people who want to make a difference providing for customers.”
Depending on location, DC associates start between $17 and $18 per hour, while FC associates start anywhere between $15 and $19 per hour, according to Walmart. The company noted that those wage figures reflect a new, temporary pay increase of $2 per hour for FC associates from now through Memorial Day.
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