Minority communities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic will soon have a lot more access to rapid COVID-19 testing. Starting Friday, CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) will open nearly 300 new sites across 14 states.

Meeting goals 

On April 27, CVS Health said it could have up to 1,000 locations offering self-swab tests by the end of May, and the company appears on pace to meet that goal. On May 14, CVS Health opened more than 50 drive-thru COVID-19 test sites across five states, and the number of stores offering drive-up testing will reach 350 in time for the weekend.

Gloved hand holding vial of blood marked COVID-19 Test

Image source: Getty Images.

CVS Health expects its total testing capacity to reach around 1.5 million per month by the end of May, and locations will be focused in areas that appear to need them the most.

Reaching the vulnerable

Earlier this month, the New York City Health Department reported significantly higher death rates in neighborhoods with high concentrations of black and Latino residents. It's still hard to measure the role access to testing has played in the stark disparity, but that won't stop CVS Health from focusing on neighborhoods that resemble those already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CVS Health is using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Social Vulnerability Index to choose new testing sites. The index uses 15 census variables to identify which communities are most likely to need support when disaster strikes. The company's also collaborating with an organization of African American physicians, the National Medical Association.