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Drugstores Offer Free COVID-19 Tests During Pandemic

NBC 7 Responds looked at ways people can sign up for tests during the coronavirus pandemic

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Testing is an important part of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. However, tests can be hard to get, which is why several drugstores are now offering them.

"With the rates being so high, a lot of people are wanting to get tested," said CVS San Diego's Regional Director Reza Mohammadkhani. "There is some delay in finding appointments that are open."

CVS has 14 locations across San Diego county where people can make an appointment for a test. The 15th location will open next week. Other pharmacies are also helping people get access to tests. Rite Aid just opened four new testing locations across the county.

"There's a massive need for testing across the board," said Rite Aid's Chris Altman. "We're testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. We're testing patients without charging them. We're testing patients without insurance coverage."

Both CVS and Rite Aid are offering tests at no cost to you. They will ask for insurance information to try and have your insurance pay, otherwise, the government steps in to pay.

"We're not doing it because it lines our pockets," Altman said. "We're really doing it from a purely community support standpoint.

Rite Aid says it is opening several new locations in San Diego county next week. People are required to go online to fill out a questionnaire and then are able to book an appointment. There is a lot of demand for testing, so Rite Aid only lets people book appointments a few days in advance.

"You're always signing up for at least the next day," said Altman. "If that is fully booked, it keeps kicking you out for a total of a 4-day window."

Altman recommends checking back every day if there are no available appointments because new ones will be listed every morning.

Mohammadkhani points out that these are self-testing kits. They are different than the ones administered at other testing sites and require you to insert a cotton swab into your nose. The tests are all done at the pharmacy drive-thru and dropped into a collection box.

"We get that opportunity to go in places that a lot of people might not have access," said Mohammadkhani. "We're providing that access to them."

Each site can do a few dozen tests each day. While the tests are done at the drugstore, they are then sent to a lab to be analyzed. The results have been delayed several days because of the number of tests labs are having sent to them.

"Based on the sheer volume, labs are struggling," Altman said. "Labs are working across the board to get those results back as quickly as they can."

To find out more about CVS locations and to try and book an appointment, visit their website here.

To find out more about Rite Aid locations and to try and book an appointment, visit their website here.

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