Buckhannon Walgreens now offering free drive-thru COVID-19 testing

BUCKHANNON – Upshur Countians currently have three options for cost-free COVID-19 testing locally, including a self-administered drive-thru testing site at Walgreens in Buckhannon.

Walgreens Pharmacy Manager Alicia Frymier on Friday confirmed that with a 24-hour appointment, the store is allowing residents to self-test via a diagnostic kit at no cost, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

Simply visit Walgreens website, click on ‘Find Care,’ ‘Find Care Near You,’ and then select ‘COVID-19 Testing.” Click on West Virginia, and the site will provide a list of locations at which COVID-19 testing is available, including 71 West Main St. in Buckhannon. Other close Walgreens testing locations may be found in Randolph, Gilmer and Harrison counties.

Frymier said residents will be prompted to select their desired testing location, fill out some information about themselves and set an appointment via the website – a process she said may also be completed on the Walgreens app.

However, appointments must be scheduled 24 hours in advance, she emphasized.

“We do want to note that they can’t just come through the drive-thru without an appointment,” she said. “However, if they pick an appointment online and get that time set, then they can come through the drive-through at the designated time, and it is a contactless process. We give them a self-testing kit and provide verbal instructions to them, but we don’t touch it at all. They self-test and leave it in the deposit box, and LabCorp picks it up directly from that box.”

Frymier said LabCorp collects the samples several times a day, and patients typically receive their results within three days; results may be received via a phone call or an online method, such as via an email or through an app.

“The testing is free for individuals without insurance,” she said.

There likely isn’t a cost-sharing charge for people with health insurance, either, and that’s because the CARES Act – or Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – requires most private insurers to waive cost-sharing payments for their plan members’ COVID-19 testing.

The CARES Act also stipulates that CARES Act funding and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will reimburse health care providers, usually at Medicare rates, for COVID-19 testing for people with no health insurance.

In a press release this week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said the state has partnered with Walgreens and West Virginia-based Fruth Pharmacy “to offer dozens of free testing sites at pharmacy drive-thrus” in an effort to expand COVID-19 testing and detection and combat the virus’s spread. In fact, Walgreens offers testing at 54 locations throughout the Mountain State, according to the governor’s office.

Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace, a member of the B-U COVID-19 Community Task Force, said there are currently three options in the county at which members of the public may get tested for COVID-19 at no cost, and a fourth location may be in the works.

“We have our public events that are hosted by the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and our health department; Community Care of West Virginia; and Walgreens drive-thru,” Wallace said. “One of the things we have run into is people thinking that if they don’t have health insurance, they can’t afford COVID testing, but that’s not true: You absolutely are able to get tested because the CARES Act covers you at 100 percent without health insurance.”

Wallace also explained Upshur County’s recent weeklong testing blitz, saying any time a county is gold, orange or red, the state requires the county to test for seven consecutive days at three separate locations.

Finally, she wanted Upshur residents to know that COVID-19 testing has become increasingly less invasive. Wallace said she’s been tested numerous times due to allergies and because of potential exposure, and the process is significantly more nostril-friendly, so to speak.

“It is definitely less invasive now,” she said. “They just reach to the top of the nostril for a sample, so it’s no longer like what people would jokingly call ‘a brain scrape.’”

For more information about COVID-19 testing dates and locations in Upshur County and across the state, visit the W.Va. DHHR’s website here.

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