In early June, the CVS at 3030 Sylvan Avenue became the first testing COVID-19 testing site in West Dallas.
Testing is done using a drive-through system. Patients stay in their cars while CVS Minute Clinic workers come outside. The test requires patients or someone with them to swab their own nose for a secretion sample. This swab is overseen by a Minute Clinic worker. (This self-administered testing method is being performed at Dallas County’s sites, too, as well as most medical clinics, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.)
The sample is sent to a third-party lab, and results are available in about three days via email or by phone. Patients do not need a referral from a doctor to be tested. However, they do need to make an appointment at cvs.com/minuteclinic or by calling 866.389.2727.
The testing site at the Sylvan CVS currently is the only site offering COVID-19 testing in West Dallas. It’s one of 1,000 testing locations CVS has set up across the country in response to the pandemic. The goal for these locations is to conduct 1.5 million tests each month — an average of 1,500 per site.
When identifying which CVS stores would host COVID-19 testing sites, “we were very selective and thoughtful about making sure we put them in different communities, especially those that don’t have as much access to healthcare,” says Sharon Vitti, CVS Health senior vice president and Minute Clinic president.
To determine which communities were most in need of COVID-19 testing, CVS used the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index, a map that highlights areas in the country with high poverty rates, limited transportation and crowded housing.
Even though no vaccine currently exists for COVID-19, medical experts agree that getting tested is important in order to track and slow the spread of the virus, and to collect data to better understand the virus. A greater understanding could aid in the creation of a vaccine.
“Testing is a key tool we have when overcoming this,” says Dr. Philip Huang, the Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.
Since COVID-19 testing supplies are very limited throughout the state and country, patients must answer a survey online or over the phone to see if they qualify for COVID-19 testing in order to make an appointment at CVS’ minute clinic.
Only people 18 years and older who are Texas residents are able to be tested at CVS. The survey asks if the patient has experienced any symptoms with the last 24 hours such as fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, muscle pain, or loss of taste or smell. Patients also will be asked about other medical conditions they may have that are risk factors for COVID-19, such as asthma, diabetes or heart conditions. People who have multiple symptoms and risk factors will receive priority testing, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC says that healthcare facility workers, people who live or work in group homes or settings, and first responders who have symptoms will receive the highest priority for COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 testing is free for all patients whom the CVS survey determines eligible to be tested. Insurance is accepted at CVS testing sites, and tests for uninsured patients will be covered under the Department of Health and Human Services program, says Monica Prinzing, a CVS spokeswoman. If a patient does not have insurance, they should bring their Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID.
In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Texas Department of State Health Services recommends that individuals stay home if they feel sick, avoid being in groups larger than 10 people, stay 6 feet away from other individuals in public, wear face coverings or masks whenever possible, and frequently wash hands or use hand sanitizer.
Huang emphasizes the importance of wearing masks in public settings.
“You should wear a cloth face covering any time you are around people,” Huang says. “There is evidence that if everyone uses cloth face coverings, we can fully open up [businesses] sooner.”