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Walgreens opens drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Tucson

Walgreens has opened a drive-thru coronavirus testing center in Tucson, with free tests available only by appointment for people who meet CDC eligibility criteria.

The drugstore chain had announced that it would begin drive-thru testing at 15 locations in seven states about 10 days ago, saying that they would be open by the end of that week. Friday, it announced that nine sites, including the one in Tucson and another in El Mirage, Ariz., were being opened.

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," the company said.

The Tucson site is located at 10315 E. Broadway, near Camino Seco. Testing is not available on demand.

The Centers for Disease Control criteria limit testing to people who have active symptoms of COVID-19, with priority given to healthcare workers and first responders, as well as people with underlying conditions and the elderly.

Anyone interested in being tested must fill out an online questionnaire to determine whether they meet the criteria. Those determined to be eligible will be informed by email, with a lab testing order sent on their behalf.

"All drive-thru testing is being conducted outside and patients are instructed to not leave their vehicles. Patients will be informed of their results within 24 hours of testing," the company said. Walgreens expects to conduct 100-150 tests daily at the site, but availability may be limited based on weather, capacity and other factors.

"Testing locations are selected in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and are planned for select hot spot markets with escalating rates of COVID-19 cases," the company said.

Mayor Regina Romero welcomed the move, saying Friday that "drastically increasing our testing capacity remains a critical component in our fight against COVID-19 and I am grateful for all of our private sector partners that have stepped up to help us accomplish this."

The remaining six Walgreens sites around the country are expected to open by the end of the month, the company said Friday.

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National Guard photo

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