Leveraging its capabilities as the largest store-front retailer in the U.S., Walmart (WMT -1.69%) has been a leader in many ways during the current COVID-19 crisis. Its newest endeavor is the opening of two COVID-19 testing sites in the Chicago area in partnership with federal, state, and local officials.

How it works

Announced last week and put into effect on Sunday, the arrangement has testing sites set up in the parking lots of two Walmart shopping centers in the Chicago area. 

Interior of a Walmart store.

Image source: Walmart.

Right now the sites are only available to emergency and health workers such as doctors, nurses, and first responders, who are more exposed to the coronavirus in their efforts to help the public.

Del Sloneker, COO of Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness, said in a statement, "We are extremely grateful to every doctor, nurse, pharmacist, EMT and other health and emergency professional who is selflessly supporting the response."

The sites are staffed by workers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as Walmart pharmacists. These locations are the center of a pilot program to see how Walmart can assist in curbing the spread of the virus and keep health workers safe.

Keeping everyone safe

All workers at the sites will wear protective gear so as not to compromise themselves or anyone else in the parking lots. People coming through the site to be tested will remain in their cars for the entire process.

Walmart is looking to scale the program to other stores and areas of the country after the pilot yields data about best practices.

Leading by example

Walmart has hired thousands of workers to fill demand during the current situation and had pledged bonuses and pay hikes for employees. Walmart stock has kept fairly steady as sales increase and the company takes a leading role in dealing with the crisis.