• Walmart will soon have more than 20 coronavirus testing sites in 10 states, the company told Business Insider.
  • “We have been learning a lot from our initial sites so that we can get the model right and are working hard to help expand testing in areas of need as quickly as possible,” a Walmart spokesperson said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Walmart plans to have more than 20 coronavirus testing sites operating in at least 10 states by the end of April, the company told Business Insider on Monday.

The retailer has been working with the federal government to set up drive-thru testing sites in its parking lots. The first two sites opened in the Chicago area on March 22.

“We currently have three sites open, and we have plans to expand testing to multiple sites next week with the goal of having more than 20 sites in more than 10 states by the end of the month,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “We have been learning a lot from our initial sites so that we can get the model right and are working hard to help expand testing in areas of need as quickly as possible.”

The spokesperson added: “We remain committed to supporting government efforts to expand COVID-19 drive-thru testing during this critical time, and we are working closely with Quest Diagnostics, HHS, and several states to open sites in areas of need.”

The sites are staffed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Walmart pharmacists who volunteered to support the locations.

President Donald Trump announced plans in mid-March to get more coronavirus testing sites up and running with the help of retailers such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and CVS. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon spoke at the press conference where Trump announced the effort. 

“When we got the call yesterday from the White House, we were eager to do our part to help serve the country,” McMillon said at the time. He said the testing would initially be available in “select locations” and scale over time.

An internal Walmart memo that was shared after the press conference said the location decisions and timing of the testing sites would be determined by the federal government. 

“This is a government testing initiative, so location decisions and timing will be made by them,” the memo, which was reviewed by Business Insider, said. “For the limited number of stores chosen, testing will be in-car and at the far edge of the parking lot and all testing will be administered by federal health officials.”

About a week later, Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, updated reporters on the status of the first testing sites and said Walmart was waiting on supplies from the federal government. 

“We have teams on the ground, we have tents, and everything’s ready,” he said, referring to two sites that were planning to open in a matter of days. The sites were waiting on supplies of personal protection equipment and swab test kits to get up and running.

“Once we figure out the supply issue, I think we’ll be off to the races,” he said.

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