Transcript for Walgreens president talks expansion of testing as states reopen
Now the race to expand covid-19 testing all across the country. It's seen as one of the keys to re-opening society. America's largest pharmacies including Walgreens, CVS and Walmart are teaming up with the government to provide more tests. Walgreens' president Richard ash worth announced the initiative on Monday with president trump and is joining us now. Mr. Ashworth, thank you so much for joining us. Experts stress the need for more testing to open society back up to get it back up and running. Now, Walgreens says it will expand testing to 49 states and hopes to conduct 50,000 tests a week. How are you going to do it and when can this start? Thank you for having me. I appreciate the time to come and speak with you. I will tell you this has been quite an experience but we are making steady progress. You know, as you just said we announced our covid testing expansion to the 49 states including Puerto Rico but we're really going to be focused on underserved areas and proud to be working with the administration and state and local governments to do that for two reasons, visibility and get America back to work so we'll triple our capacity and go to 50,000 tests per week. We could do more than that. As supplies become more available and, we just want to be part of the solution. In terms of how you can find out about the testing, go to walgreens.com and there is a link there you can go in and do the criteria for and if you qualify for the test because it's in partnership with the government, then you can select one of the locations to go to. We'll ramp this week, next week and the following weeks to get as many locations up and running. I know you talked about disadvantaged neighborhood. The testing will be free That's correct. It will help a lot of people. Yeah, I think that's make sure there's no cost for the test and so our pharmacists will be overseeing the tests. We're pretty excited about that. It's a nasal swab so easy to get the test and the results you get within 24 hours so we're doing this in partnership with the government and it's no cost. What has been the challenge setting up nationwide testing? Well, this is all new for all of us, isn't it? A little over 45 days ago when we made announcements to start it, it required a significant amount of ppe where the point of care test takes less ppe in terms of protection equipment for our people, and so the biggest point that's been awesome for myself and for the profession of arm si is the amount of volunteers, pharmacists coming forward. Put me in, coach. Can I do some of this? We'll go as fast as we can. Need as much help and as many volunteers as possible. Are there shortages of materials needed to expand the testing? So the testing itself, yeah, for sure. You know, we're still working on getting the actual tests themselves, the swabs and reagents but good partnership across the industry. We put competition aside and all of us are just trying to do what's right to get as much testing to the public as we can. And as we're expanding the supply network we'll be able to get more tests going. I will say there is a big ramp-up in the amount of testing equipment available so we're encouraged by that and looking forward to getting as many sites going as we can. A lot are lifting stay-at-home orders. How will that change the shopping experience at the Walgreens that are able to open and how will you keep your employees and customers safe? Well, that's our top priority so we're doing a lot on our employee, giving them the equipment they need to be safe. Safety first, right? So extensive amount of things around cleaning, personal protection like face covers, social distancing, signage inside the store. Cleaning throughout the day. That we've been doing. All kinds of hygiene guidance, all the things you expect. We've done a lot of things to keep things outside the store too. A lot of things on your phone. Order online, deliver to home. Order online, pick up and drive through, order online and pick up curbside so a lot of things that are customers are looking for. Another thing is that the profession of pharmacy will change. We'll be really considered as part of the diagnostic solution so right now it's testing, super important. People want to know if they have this virus or not and the more visibility we can get the better that will be and move into serology and antibody testing and whatever that may look like and lastly, which we're all looking for, is the treatment or vaccination, again, community pharmacy -- I'm a pharmacist myself so I'm -- I know the kind of trusted relationship that pharmacists have with their patients and we're very accessible. They're all across the U.S. So looking forward to being part of the solution. That will change the world that you live in and the world we all live in. Mr. Ashworth, thanks for your time and for what Walgreens is doing. We really appreciate it. Appreciate the opportunity to be here. Have a good day.
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