April 27 (Reuters) - Pharmacy retailers CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boots Alliance on Monday unveiled plans to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities to meet increasing demand.
Beginning in May, CVS Health will offer self-swab tests to individuals meeting the criteria of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The testing will be scheduled online and take place at select CVS Pharmacy locations in parking lots or at drive-thru windows.
CVS Health currently operates large-scale COVID-19 rapid test sites in five U.S. states, and each site can accommodate 1,000 tests per day.
Walgreens, on the other hand, plans to open drive-through COVID-19 testing locations in 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, the drugstore chain said. The company currently has 15 testing sites in seven states.
CVS expects to have up to 1,000 locations across the country offering this service by the end of May, with the goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests per month.
Kroger Health, the healthcare division of Kroger Co, also said on Monday it would expand its drive-thru COVID-19 testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 states and expects to perform up to 100,000 tests by the end of May.
Testing for COVID-19, the serious respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, has been held back by a lack of test kits and other equipment.
Testing, including at drive-through sites like these provided by few retailers, are seen as a key component for U.S. workers and restarting the economy as most states have ordered many non-essential businesses to close.
Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings also said it would now offer its antibody tests for the virus that causes COVID-19 at no upfront out-of-pocket costs.
LabCorp expects to be able to perform 200,000 tests per day by mid-May, as more tests and testing platforms receive the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization.
Currently, LabCorp provides antibody blood testing on a limited basis to high-priority healthcare workers and has capacity to perform over 50,000 tests per day. (Reporting By Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)