Where can I get a rapid test?

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Farmville residents looking to obtain a rapid COVID-19 test are finding they have few, if any, options available in this area.

Although the Centra Southside Community Hospital does offer coronavirus testing, rapid-result tests, officials have previously said, are reserved for critically ill patients.

Those looking to obtain test results quickly don’t have many places to go locally.

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Across the country, many CVS pharmacies offer at least some form of coronavirus testing, be it a rapid-result test, also referred to as an “antigen test,” or a “swab-and-send” polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which typically has a two- to three-day turnaround for results.

However, the CVS Pharmacy located in the Town of Farmville does not offer any form of testing. According to CVS.com, the closest CVS Health site which does offer testing is 25 miles away in Appomattox, but the Appomattox location offers only drive-thru lab testing, not rapid-result testing.

To find a CVS location that offers rapid results, a Farmville citizen would need to travel to Richmond or Lynchburg. The Hull Street Road CVS store in Midlothian is listed online as offering rapid-result testing, as is the Wards Road COVID-19 CVS testing site in Lynchburg and the Lauderdale Drive location in Richmond.

All of the locations mentioned above, however, did not have any immediate scheduling availability as of Monday, Jan. 25, due to a high demand in testing. While timeslots can be reserved for near-future dates, a person looking to get a same-day result may not benefit from waiting several days to take a rapid test over scheduling a lab-test.

Joe Good and Tara Burke, representatives for CVS Health, said CVS currently has more than 4,500 locations across the country offering a combination of swab-and-send and rapid testing.

“Through this effort we are hoping to provide access in areas of the country that need additional testing and are selecting CVS Pharmacy locations with this criteria in mind,” Burke wrote in an email.

On Friday, Jan. 22, Good said Virginia has 126 swab-and-send CVS locations and 34 rapid-result locations, adding testing is provided at no cost.

Neither Good nor Burke addressed questions regarding why the Farmville CVS location does not offer any type of testing to residents.

Walgreen pharmacies also provide COVID-19 testing capabilities to residents across Virginia. Testing sites affiliated with Walgreens offer PCR tests as well as rapid diagnostic tests (RDT), which typically provide results in less than 24 hours, and antigen tests, which provide results in as little as one hour.

But according to Walgreen’s testing site locator, the Walgreens location in Farmville also does not offer any form of testing. Citizens can find the nearest RDT and rapid testing Walgreens locations on Boonsboro Road in Lynchburg, Halifax Road in South Boston, Nuckols Road in Glen Allen, Cox Road in North Dinwiddie and both the Broad Street and Ellwood Avenue sites in Richmond.

A Walgreens representative did not respond back as of press time regarding why the Farmville location does not offer coronavirus testing.

There is one place locally known to provide rapid-result COVID-19 testing — Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS), which has locations in Farmville, New Canton and Charlotte.

On Friday, CVHS CEO Paula Tomko said all sites have rapid testing capabilities.

“We do the rapid tests by appointment, not during our community testing events,” she stated.

Tomko said CVHS performs rapid tests for people who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. If the rapid test is negative, the health care provider follows up with a PCR test which goes to Lab Corp.

“The person will be isolated and most often tested curbside in their car,” she added. “We will recommend the patient isolate regardless of the rapid-result while we await the PCR test result as additional confirmation.”

Tomko said the rapid-result test works best in patients who are symptomatic, adding that results have shown very limited benefit in screening asymptomatic exposures.

According to Tomko, there is no out- of-pocket cost to patients at CVHS for rapid or PCR COVID-19 testing.

“We do file with a patient’s insurance, whether it is Medicaid, Medicare or private/commercial insurance,” she said. “We accept what the insurance pays for these visits.”

Tomko said the Farmville CVHS office will also do rapid testing for people who need a test for travel, since officials cannot guarantee a result will be returned in time for traveling.