HHS extends partnership with retailers to boost COVID-19 testing

FILE PHOTO: A lab at Methodist Dallas Medical Center prepares a nasal swab for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing in Dallas, Texas, U.S. June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Cooper Neill

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday it would extend its partnership with private pharmacies and grocery chains to provide better access to COVID-19 testing.

The partnership with CVS Health Corp, Rite Aid Corp, Walgreens boots Alliance Inc, Kroger and Walmart Inc has been scaled up to more than 600 COVID-19 testing sites across the country.

About 70% of the testing sites under the program are located in areas that have moderate-to-high vulnerability to the virus.

The partnership has been extended at a time when drive-through coronavirus testing sites have been popping up across the country, and seeks to ramp up testing, reduce pressure on emergency rooms, while keeping patients in their cars to avoid spreading the infection.

Reporting by Neha Malara; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi