Coronavirus: Walmart to test drone delivery of at-home COVID-19 test kits

Coronavirus: Walmart to test drone delivery of at-home COVID-19 test kits
Walmart Inc. launched drone delivery of self-collection kits on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, to single-family homes within a one-mile radius of the North Las Vegas Walmart location. The pilot program will be expanded to Cheektowaga, New York, in early October. (Walmart Inc.)

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Walmart Inc. is taking to the skies to expand COVID-19 testing.

The retail behemoth launched drone delivery of self-collection kits on Tuesday to single-family homes within a 1-mile radius of the North Las Vegas Walmart location, KSNV reported.

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The pilot program will be expanded to Cheektowaga, New York, in early October, The Hill reported.

According to KSNV, Walmart has partnered with aerial data collector DroneUp and Quest Diagnostics for the new program, through which patients will perform a self-administered nasal swab and ship the sample to a Quest Diagnostics lab.

“Walmart has been serving the North Las Vegas community throughout the pandemic with drive-thru testing sites, and we wanted to provide another way to access testing that provides convenience and leverages technology while learning how drones could impact the delivery of healthcare in the future,” Amanda Jenkins, vice president of operation support and implementation with Walmart’s health and wellness division, told KSNV.

Per the company, deliveries will be available while supplies last – weather and visibility permitting – every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer also announced plans Sept. 10 to launch home delivery of groceries and household items via automated drones. The pilot program was deployed in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

“There’s a lot we can learn from our drone delivery pilots to help determine what roles drones can play in pandemic response, health care delivery and retail,” Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president for customer product, said in a corporate blog post announcing the pilot program’s debut.

“We hope drone delivery of self-collection kits will shape contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale and continue to bolster the innovative ways Walmart plans to use drone delivery in the future,” Ward added.

The kits will be dropped off by the drone at the patient’s driveway, front sidewalk or backyard free of charge, The Hill reported.

Patients must, however, meet U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local guidelines to receive a test, and eligibility can be checked here.