Pharmacists begin COVID-19 testing in Maryland

Hundreds of pharmacists are now on the front lines of battling COVID-19 in Maryland. They have been given the authority by Governor Larry Hogan to provide testing at pharmacy sites that are opening up weekly throughout the state. Rite Aid, CVS and Walmart are doing tests not inside their pharmacies, but outside in their parking lots. On Tuesday, car after car wrapped around the Maryland Walmart parking lot off Guilford Drive in Frederick.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

The coronavirus tests are free, do not require a doctor's order and you don't need to be symptomatic.

"It's very easy, very easy...I don't have symptoms but I want to know I'm healthy," said resident Roxanna Barra.

"I'm pretty sure I don't have COVID-19, but who knows and if it's true that so many people can be asymptomatic then a lot more people need to be tested," said Leonard Smith, a Maryland physician who had come out to get tested.

Leading the effort was Walmart's Pharmacy team dressed in full PPE which was a tough job especially in 80 degree heat. Elezabeth Aloth has been a pharmacist for 13 years


"The typical pharmacist you imagine somebody that's behind the counter that's verifying medication, talking about immunizations, but it's really awesome that we get to be out here on the front lines truly," said Aloth.

Those interested in getting a test at Walmart, need to first make an appointment online through the website and get a voucher.

Once you get to the testing site, do not go inside the pharmacy. All testing is done outside. You don't have to get out of your car, and you don't even need to roll down your car window. Someone from the pharmacy staff will be holding a cue card with a phone number to call.

"Safety is actually our number one focus, so because of that the patient is actually the one that's doing the test. It's a self-swab where the pharmacist is coaching them through it through the phone...that way there's no exposure between patient and pharmacist," said Aloth.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Everything You Need to Know

Only for a brief moment do drivers partially roll down their window in order to get the self-swab tests which are used 15 seconds in each nostril.

"It's a little difficult to do it yourself, kind of feels like the swab is touching your brain," said Melissa George.

The Pharmacists makes sure the tests are done properly before they're sent off to a third party lab for processing. Aloth says she couldn't be more proud to be a pharmacist—especially now at a time of crisis.

"I never expected to see anything like this happen, and it's gratifying to know I went into the right profession and I can serve my community both inside the Walmart and out in a parking lot," said Aloth

Test Results will be available in about 24-72 hours.

Find CVS sites online and a full list of participating pharmacies.


Your coronavirus questions answered

Coronavirus: Symptoms, testing and how to prepare amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

LIVE: Interactive map tracks global spread of COVID-19

How to help during the coronavirus pandemic