Through a partnership with diagnostic lab service provider eTrueNorth, supercenter chain Meijer said it will be the first retailer to offer free, at-home COVID-19 PCR tests.
Meijer said Monday that the COVID PCR tests will be available through its 254 pharmacies in the Midwest. Those interested in getting a test must register online at ineedacovid19test.com. After completing an online assessment and choosing a Meijer pharmacy locations, patients will receive a voucher to be used to pick up their test self-collection kit. The voucher can be printed or displayed on a smartphone.
Patients collect the specimen by nasal swab and return it in the provided bag to a designated drop box at the same Meijer pharmacy where they received the test kit. Meijer said specimens must be returned the same day they are collected. Specimens then are shipped to a certified laboratory for a PCR analysis, with results provided within 48 to 72 hours. The service is available Monday through Friday.
“We are very pleased to be the first retail pharmacy location to offer this service,” Jackie Morse, vice president of pharmacy at Meijer, said in a statement. “Our pharmacies have provided many important services throughout the pandemic, and this new COVID-19 testing option is another key example of how we continue to look for ways to help our customers, team members and communities.”
Tested patients will receive an email when their results are available. Results and a printable report can be accessed in their account at ineedacovid19test.com. Meijer said customers using the service should wear a face mask or covering when picking up a test and returning it to the drop box, and those with symptoms can have their tests picked up and dropped off by a family member or friend with proof of voucher.
“ETrueNorth continues to enable PCR COVID-19 tests across the country since the start of this pandemic through pharmacies,” stated Coral May, CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based eTrueNorth. “Providing an option for a PCR test where the individual self-collects their specimen should dramatically increase Americans’ access to COVID-19 testing. We are very thankful to Meijer for being the first retailer to offer these self-collection tests to their customers.”
Meijer operates 258 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
Although both rapid antigen and molecular PCR tests employ nasal or nasalpharyngeal swabs, the latter is considered the “gold standard” in COVID-19 detection. The rapid antigen test delivers results quickly — some very quickly, within a half-hour — but false positives can occur, and negative results may need to be confirmed with a molecular test, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Results can take up to a week for the molecular PCR test, yet it’s typically highly accurate and usually doesn’t need to be repeated, the FDA said. On the laboratory side, the molecular PCR test actually detects genetic material (RNA) specific to coronavirus, whereas the rapid antigen test detects protein fragments specific to the virus.