UPDATE: May 4, 2020: Kroger announced May 4 that it will expand its free COVID-19 tests to its associates "based on symptoms and medical need." The company said it will offer the tests free of charge using a combination of self-administered kits and its drive-through testing sites.
- Kroger will begin offering COVID-19 tests to Colorado and Michigan employees as part of a pilot program, the grocer announced in a press release Thursday. The company will permit pharmacists who work in its stores to submit lab orders for the tests and observe as employees self-administer them in areas where doing so is legally permissible.
- The supermarket chain's healthcare division, Kroger Health, is also opening free testing sites in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to screen members of priority groups, including healthcare providers, first responders and people with symptoms of COVID-19. The new sites augment novel coronavirus testing facilities Kroger opened in Kentucky and Tennessee earlier this month.
- People who are eligible for testing at the sites Kroger is sponsoring do not need to come into contact with anyone else to be screened for COVID-19. Instead, they will use self-administered nasal swabs provided to them as they remain in their vehicles.
Kroger's associate testing comes as the company, along with others like Albertsons, are pressing authorities to classify grocery workers as essentials employees. A handful of jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, Dallas and Los Angeles, have taken that step, which makes it easier to access testing and personal protective equipment, but supermarket employees in most of the country have to get in line with everyone else to be screened for the disease despite working for extended periods in public locations.
Kroger issued a joint statement with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) on April 14 asking federal and state officials to give grocery workers priority access to personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves. Kroger also partnered with the union to ask shoppers to take steps such as wearing face coverings and observing social distancing protocols while in supermarkets to reduce the spread of the virus.
The grocer announced earlier this month that it had entered a partnership with Kentucky to expand the state’s ability to test people for the virus, an arrangement the company said has led to more than 2,600 people being screened. At the time, Kroger said the tests would be available to people with symptoms of the disease, healthcare workers, first responders, people 65 or older and those with chronic health conditions — but not specifically to grocery store workers.
In the expansion of its testing announced on May 4, Kroger noted that it would be free.