White House Embraces Drive-Through Virus Testing, Plans Website

(Bloomberg) -- The White House is meeting Friday with executives from the retail, pharmaceutical and technology industries to discuss development of a web portal that would direct people to drive-through sites for coronavirus testing, according to people familiar with the plan.

President Donald Trump and top health officials are meeting with executives from Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics and Roche Diagnostics, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal deliberations. Executives from the technology industry were also invited.

The White House said later that Thermo Fisher Scientific, Signify Health, LHC Group and Becton, Dickinson and Company were also invited.

The meeting comes as the White House seeks ways to expedite testing for the quickly spreading virus. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers this week that the lack of widespread testing for Americans thus far is a “failing.” The virus’s spread has crushed trading markets and emerged as a defining test of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Trump has scheduled a news conference on Friday, following the meeting, in which he’s expected to declare coronavirus a national emergency.

The White House and some of the companies in the meeting, with miles of collective parking lot space, will assess how that land could be used to set up testing sites, the people said.

South Korea, which has been widely praised for its coronavirus testing, has been using drive-through sites. New York state has also introduced the practice.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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