Rite Aid Reverses Plan to Charge $115 for Covid Tests

Rite Aid drugstores will expand free covid testing program to include individuals over age 13.
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Drugstore chain Rite Aid  (RAD) - Get Report on Tuesday said it was expanding its free coronavirus testing program through its partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reversing a previous announcement.

Earlier Tuesday, Rite Aid had said it would soon begin charging $115 for a coronavirus test as federal funding by HHS was set to end on Dec. 1.

The development comes as U.S. hospitalizations related to covid have steadily risen to a record 85,000 per day and the total number of coronavirus infections crossed 12.4 million in the country. 

The U.S. continues to be the worst affected country in the world in the pandemic. ore than 250,000 Americans have died from the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

"We're proud to continue serving as an essential part of the pandemic response in the neighborhoods we serve," said president and chief executive Heyward Donigan, in a statement.

"Continuing to make testing available - and now, to a broader age range - is an important next step in continuing to fight COVID-19."

The company said it had expanded testing to include individuals older than 13; previously, only individuals 18 years or older were eligible. Those under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them and give consent for the testing.

Rite Aid said it will soon expand covid-19 testing to up to an additional 1,000 drive-through locations.

The pharmacy chain currently operates 301 testing sites across 15 states. Testing will be temporarily unavailable for the Thanksgiving weekend and will resume from Dec. 1.

Rite Aid's self-swab nasal tests are available seven days a week. 

Shares of Rite Aid were down 0.45% to $11.11 during after-hours trading at last check. 

On Monday shares of Rite Aid fell 16% as optimism about a coronavirus vaccine faded somewhat with the reality that the pandemic continues to escalate in the U.S. and across the globe.

In September, Rite Aid posted stronger-than-expected fiscal-second-quarter sales and provided upbeat guidance on expectations that consumers will continue to rely on the pharmacy chain for prescriptions and other essentials amid the pandemic.