We are certainly not alone in supporting these sites. These sites reflect a coordinated partnership with our lab partners, local and state officials – especially the mayors and governors who have worked hand-in-hand with us – and HHS. Each site is supported by Walmart pharmacists who are paid volunteers; staff from our lab partners; security/law enforcement from the local community or state, including the National Guard; and volunteers from Remote Area Medical.
The model is working, but we continue to innovate and expand as we work to help more people, especially those in underserved areas. Once again we tasked our team with finding a solution. This week, Walmart is adding mobile testing sites to this critical mission, launching units in Georgia, Alabama and Kansas to better meet the needs of underserved populations and expand access to tests to even more Americans. These mobile units will bring drive-thru testing to several communities in each state, rotating between three to four different locations over the course of a week.
It’s been 45 days and counting since Walmart got the call to stand up testing sites, and we are now supporting 20 sites in 12 states – opening more every day. As a result, nearly 13,000 people have been tested at one of our sites to date. We have learned an incredible amount from these tests, and lab and testing capacity is increasing all the time, giving us confidence we can rapidly scale. Just this week, we will open approximately 25 more sites, and by the end of May we anticipate operating more than 100 sites, assuming there is adequate lab capacity. With 100 sites we can bring 20,000 tests a week to people who need them, especially in hot spots and underserved areas.
Continuing to Innovate
We are very proud of the work completed to get us to 45 sites, but we are anxious to do more and serve more communities where we are located (90% of the U.S. population is within 10 miles of a Walmart). To really accelerate our progress, we need to connect our next phase of testing with one of our core businesses – running a pharmacy.
As new tests emerge – including both nasal and saliva tests to identify if a person has the virus and blood-based (serology) tests looking for antibodies to determine if someone has recovered—and as testing capacity becomes more readily available and we can secure more kits—we can utilize our pharmacies across the country to distribute and collect tests at much greater volume. Imagine going online, scheduling a test through our lab partners, pulling up to your local Walmart at your scheduled time, parking in your assigned spot and having our pharmacist greet you. You take a nasal or saliva test while you remain in the car, and the test is sent to the lab for processing. For serology tests, perhaps you could even have your finger stuck by a pharmacist, similar to a test for blood glucose and cholesterol levels, to understand whether you have antibodies to the virus.