Local Pharmacies Prepare for Covid Testing

Drive thru covid testing
Photo credit Photo: USA Today

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WBEN) - "For the last six weeks, we've been working behind the scenes to see if we could help with Covid testing, or with antibody testing." Don Arthur is Pharmacist and owner of Brighton Eggert Pharmacy in Tonawanda and Black Rock Pharmacy in Buffalo.

Even though Governor Cuomo announced diagnostic testing at drug stores on Saturday, local pharmacists are not quite ready to roll it out.

"Testing is going to come with some challenges. I have real concerns about testing inside the pharmacy," he said. Local pharmacists have been immunizing for the flu for years. They also give shingles shots and pneumonia shots. But Arthur says current testing for the virus is done outside with a drive thru operation. "To expect independent community pharmacies to create a testing environment within their stores is going to be difficult."   Arthur envisions creating a drive thru, by appointment only, with cones on the side of the plaza on a temporary basis.

Many pharmacies have changed quite a bit in the past six weeks. There are plexiglass barriers at registers. Social distancing is practiced throughout stores and staff have been wearing masks. Arthur said to offer covid testing he would need full face shields and haz-mat type gowns. He'll need help from the state to acquire those things.

There are many unanswered questions right now, such as, is it covered by insurance, and what is the out of pocket cost?  Arthur is hoping to get those answers soon.

While there is a lot of interest in the test for the virus itself, there is even greater curiosity about the antibody test. "A lot of our patients feel they were sick in late January and they want to know if they were infected."