COVID-19 testing expands in DC to include grocery store workers, essential employees

The D.C. government is expanding its COVID-19 testing to include grocery store workers and essential employees in the city.

At the same time, the city is rolling out mobile testing sites that can do 50 tests in four hours.

This shows progress in the testing arena but the question remains — will we see walk-up testing any time soon in the District? 

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The expanded testing is specifically for grocery store workers and essential employees who have had "a history of exposure to a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient." 

The testing is free with a note from your doctor and an appointment.

At the same time, the District is putting a mobile lab on the road to get instant results at long term health care facilities.

Health care workers in full PPE will take the lab to any one of a dozen or so longterm health care facilities in the city where they can conduct 50 tests in a matter of four hours. The samples will be taken inside the facility and processed inside the truck.

If a sample is positive, the result may come back in less than five minutes.

The lab will first go to where it's needed most and the data collected from health department contact workers show these longterm health care facilities are now hot spots for the virus.

At the same time, grocery store workers can be tested for free at a number of sites around the city. A decision applauded by the union representing those workers.

But they still just can't walk in. The directive says the workers have to show they may have been exposed to the virus.

And what about the pharmacies? The White House announced on Monday that the big chains will be conducting testing, but if you go online to the big chains in the area, CVS and Walgreens, it shows testing is not yet available in our area.

RELATED: DC, Maryland and Virginia coronavirus case total

Dr. Jennifer Smith, the director of the forensics lab, told FOX 5 on Tuesday anyone who is asymptomatic and concerned they may have been exposed can go to their health care provider and with a note get a test.

An at-home test is also being developed by pixel-by LabCorp but it is still weeks away from being on the market for $119.

An actual walk-up test without a note is still not a reality