Retail Clinics Hold Promise as Key to Safely Reopening U.S. Economy Sooner

May 15, 2020

Castlight Health Analysis Shows Uneven Distribution of Testing Sites; Retail Clinics Could Help Fill Gaps, Address COVID-19 Testing Site Deserts

SAN FRANCISCO – May 15, 2020 – Castlight Health, Inc. (NYSE: CSLT) today released a report finding COVID-19 testing sites are distributed unevenly across the country, creating major gaps in access to coverage based on geography. Retail clinics, including Walmart and CVS Health, are rallying to meet that challenge and opening new testing sites to increase capacity. Especially for localities with gaps in access, these retail locations could prove the critical difference in providing the testing capacity needed to safely reopen their economies. 

The analysis finds that while most states appear to have an adequate number of testing sites overall, many local regions lack accessible testing capacity to safely reopen their economies and their communities. The analysis uses Castlight’s comprehensive COVID-19 test site finder, a publicly-available directory with data from public health departments across the country, provider systems, and third party sources.

“We know that in order to reopen states’ economies and communities, we need a substantial increase in COVID-19 testing. Our analysis shows where gaps remain, and how retail clinics, as they expand testing locations, could hold the key to delivering critical testing capacity, especially for vulnerable citizens,” said Maeve O’Meara, CEO of Castlight Health. 

Most notably, the analysis found that:

  • More than half (54 percent) of America’s counties have zero COVID-19 testing sites.
  • 38 percent of metro counties (those with populations greater than 50,000) and 68 percent of rural counties have no testing sites at all.
  • Even among counties that have testing facilities, 58 percent do not have enough capacity to meet minimum recommended levels for their population.

A number of large retailers that have announced plans to open testing sites nationwide are already operating stores in counties without adequate testing sites, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. Due to their broad geographic distribution across urban, suburban, and rural locations, retail clinics can play a pivotal role in getting the country back to work by setting up testing infrastructure where it is needed most. Each retail testing location is able to collect an average of 200 tests per day, which could help many counties reach the one percent testing threshold. 

In the absence of a vaccine, quickly identifying COVID-19 cases with a diagnostic test, tracing close contacts, and isolating those infected offers the best way to contain the spread of the highly infectious virus and allow some businesses to resume operations. Current U.S. testing levels are just over half the pace needed to meet these goals.

Castlight conducted the analysis using data from its comprehensive testing site database to understand if states are equipped to collect the minimum number of tests experts say are needed—the ability to test 1 percent of their population every seven days. Castlight looked at the average test collection time, average number of collection staff per shift, operating hours, and the average number of days open per week to calculate the average number of tests different types of collection sites have the capacity to collect in a day. 

Analysis of the Castlight test site finder revealed that 46 out of the 48 contiguous states have enough testing sites to test 1 percent of their total population each week. Experts have estimated that between 3 million to 30 million people would need to be tested per week to begin safely reopening the economy. During the first week of May, the U.S. averaged only about 260,000 tests per day, just over half the minimum recommended amount.

Any retailer interested in accessing Castlight’s data set can contact [email protected] to learn more.

About Castlight Health

Castlight is on a mission to make it as easy as humanly possible for its users to navigate the healthcare system and live happier, healthier, more productive lives. Our health navigation platform connects hundreds of health vendors, benefits resources, and plan designs into one comprehensive health and wellbeing experience. We guide individuals—based on their unique profile—to the best resources available to them, whether they are healthy, chronically ill, or actively seeking medical care. Castlight transforms the employee benefit experience into a deeply personalized, yet simple, guided one, empowering better-informed patient decisions to unlock better healthcare outcomes and maximizing return on healthcare investments.  

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For more information, contact: 

Courtney Lamie
[email protected]

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