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Walgreens to set up drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Arizona this week

Arizona will be one of seven states where Walgreens will open 15 drive-thru COVID-19 testing centers later this week.

In a press release Tuesday, Walgreens announced its drive-thru testing centers will open in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

The company said the testing sites will use Abbott Laboratories's ID NOW COVID-19 test, which "delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes."

Walgreens hopes to test up to 3,000 people per day across the 15 sites, with testing provided at no cost for eligible individuals who meet guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walgreens President Richard Ashworth said it was the success of the company's first drive-thru testing center in Chicago that helped in learning how to scale such a process.

"Opening our first drive-thru testing location last month has allowed us to quickly learn and develop an efficient and scalable process, and we're pleased to be working with Abbott to help accelerate our efforts, and to enable quick results for those being tested," Ashworth said in the press release.

The locations of the testing centers were not disclosed as Walgreens said it is still finalizing them in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but they will be planned for "hot spot markets."

Once the locations are established, patients will need to make appointments in advance and will use an online assessment tool that will direct them to their nearest testing location.

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Walgreens's expansion is part of a federal effort that began last month in which CEOs of Walmart, Rite Aid, Target, CVS Health and Walgreens assured President Donald Trump that they will help in administering COVID-19 tests.

CVS Health announced Monday that it is expanding its drive-thru testing centers to Georgia and Rhode Island after the success of its initial testing center in Massachusetts.

Arizona has 2,575 COVID-19 cases resulting in 73 deaths as of April 7, according to data by the Arizona Department of Health Services. 

Nationwide, the United States has 386,800 COVID-19 cases and 12,021 deaths as of April 7, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier Tuesday, legislative leaders said they were indefinitely suspending the annual legislative session because of the pandemic and the social distancing measures required to slow the spread of the illness.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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National Guard photo

Arizona is unlikely to have many drive-through COVID-19 testing sites, like this one manned by the New York National Guard on Staten Island, because state public health officials are telling doctors to discourage testing amid an ongoing shortage of tests in the state.

How you can tell if you might be ill

Symptoms of COVID-19 resemble that of the flu. So, if you're experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

How COVID-19 spreads

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

How to prevent spreading COVID-19

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don't use your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better. Once symptoms are gone experts recommend staying home an additional 72 hours.