Rite Aid Extends COVID-19 Testing Capabilities to Asymptomatic Adults
Drugstore chain also opens additional 46 test sites
According to the latest World Health Organization data, up to 80 percent of COVID-19 cases demonstrated mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, which means a good deal of us could be transmitting the disease without even knowing it.
Based on that observation, the drugstore chain Rite Aid — which recently opened COVID-19 testing sites in eight states, including one at Erie, Pa.'s Peach Street location — is expanding eligibility for its free nasal self swab tests to include asymptomatic adults 18 and older. Interested individuals must register online at riteaid.com, where they can reserve a time slot between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any day of the week.
Starting on Monday, May 11, the expanded testing will be conducted at a total of 71 Rite Aid stores, including 46 new sites (though the closest of these to Erie will be Buffalo, N.Y.) — cumulatively allowing for 10,000 tests a day at full capacity.
At the Erie site, testing will continue to occur via a drive-thru setup in the Rite Aid parking lot at 5430 Peach. St., with registrants picking up and performing the self-collected nasal swab in their vehicles. The test involves inserting a cotton swab mid-nostril, rotating twice, and holding in place for 15 seconds. The process is repeated for the opposite nostril with the other end of the swab, after which the swab is broken in half and placed in a transport media vial, coded and sent to a clinical laboratory to be confirmed negative or positive.
Some health experts contest that self-administered tests are no substitute for a nasopharyngeal swab (an unpleasant procedure in which a swab is stuck way back there, into the back of the throat) conducted by a clinical professional. Others, however, agree that it is the "next best thing" and a valid method to compensate for testing unavailability right now.
Matt Swanseger can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; those who would reach him by nasopharyngeal swab can find him whimpering in a corner.