The Kroger Co. is rolling out COVID-19 drive-thru test sites to Colorado, Michigan and Ohio, as well as opening additional testing locations in Tennessee.
Kroger Health, the supermarket giant’s health care division, said yesterday the new test sites join existing locations in Kentucky and Tennessee and are for all priority groups, including health care workers, first responders and symptomatic individuals. Testing is free.
Plans also call for Kroger Health to pilot site-specific testing for Kroger associates in Michigan and Colorado, the Cincinnati-based company said. Kroger Health pharmacists, too, are being empowered to initiate the lab order and observe self-administered testing where permitted by law.
The first Kroger coronavirus drive-thru testing locations launched in early April, including two sites in both Kentucky and Tennessee. On April 12, Kroger Health and Kentucky announced a partnership to expand testing, doubling the number of test locations across the state. Kroger said that, to date, it has tested more than 2,600 people in Kentucky.
Kroger Health is now expanding testing to Denver; Detroit; Bowling Green, Lexington, Louisville and Owensboro, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Dayton and Toledo, Ohio. The drive-thru test locations are generally situated on off-site spaces at closed schools, businesses and public grounds.
“We are proud to be part of the solution by enabling more Americans — including our own associates — to have access to testing while continuing to provide a safe environment within our stores. We welcome this opportunity to expand our efforts in our nation’s battle against COVID-19,” Kroger Health President Colleen Lindholz said in a statement. “We know widespread testing is critical to containing the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve.”
The drive-thru sites provide self-administered test kits. Patients stay in their cars as they perform the nasal swab procedure, which takes only a few minutes, Kroger said. Test results are expected within about 48 hours. Kroger Health and its The Little Clinic unit provide all professional services at the testing facilities, include ordering and observing the COVID-19 tests.
Testing services are offered at no-cost through various partnerships, including with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), state of Kentucky, eTrueNorth and Gravity Diagnostics. Covington, Ky.-based CLIA laboratory Gravity Diagnostics is processing the COVID-19 samples at the newly launched drive-thru test sites.
For people to schedule their drive-thru test appointment, Kroger worked with Microsoft to create a digital registration process at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting, Gravity Diagnostics said Thursday. Ten drive-thru sites have been opened in Kentucky, with each conducting up to 250 COVID-19 tests daily. The testing began with top-priority individuals and people most vulnerable to the virus — such as health care and emergency personnel, seniors and those with chronic health conditions — and has since been opened up to all Kentucky residents, Gravity Diagnostics reported.
The expansion of the testing program with Kroger and HHS outside Kentucky to Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Colorado, will bring the total to 10 locations with 29 drive-thrus across five states, Gravity Diagnostics said.
“We expect to hit over 2,000 samples processed per day, with under 48-hour turnaround time this week, and we are confident that will grow that to over 4,000 samples per day in the next two weeks while maintaining our turnaround time,” stated Julie Brazil, chief operating officer at Gravity Diagnostics. “As long as we can continue to perform more testing while maintaining our fast reporting, we are not backing down during this critical time, where our turnaround time, capacity and ability to quickly implement solutions is needed most. One of the pillars of the federal plan to get to the ‘new normal’ is ample testing, and we are working hard to help supply that.”
To help determine if they need a test, people can access Kroger Health’s free screening tool at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting, where they also can view testing site dates, times and locations as well as schedule a test appointment. Kroger said the tool was adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and is designed to identify patients who need testing the most. Kroger Health said it also has launched several other initiatives to help customers during the coronavirus pandemic, including free telenutrition services and access to virtual care visits.
“It’s been a collaborative effort from our multi-disciplinary team — supported by great partnerships with local, state, and federal government officials — to open these testing sites and expand them around the country,” Lindholz added. “We are all so grateful to do our part to help our communities.”
Overall, Kroger Health serves more than 14 customers through over 2,000 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states. Its team of 22,000 health care professionals range from pharmacists and nurse practitioners to dietitians and technicians.
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