Impact of COVID-19 on prevalence of community pharmacies as CLIA-Waived facilities

Nicklas S. Klepser, Donald G. Klepser, Jennifer L. Adams, Alex J. Adams, Michael E. Klepser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) enabled greater access to low-risk tests by allowing their use in facilities with a Certificate of Waiver in the U.S. Recently, the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shined a spotlight on CLIA-waived diagnostic testing. To meet this increased patient demand for diagnostic testing, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authorized licensed pharmacists to order and administer FDA authorized COVID-19 tests. Objective: This study aims to update the previous national benching report and examine both the number of pharmacies in the United States with CLIA Certificates of Waiver before and after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the state-by-state differences in the percentage of pharmacies with CLIA Certificates of Waiver. Methods: Data were collected from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CLIA Laboratory Search website May 3rd, 2015, August 4th, 2019 and November 26th, 2020. The website allows for exportation of demographic data on all CLIA-waived facilities by state. Results: Pharmacies exhibited the largest growth both in number (4865 new locations) and by percent (45%) of CLIA-waived facilities between 2015 and 2020. The total number of pharmacies with a CLIA-waiver grew from 10,626 (17.94%) locations in 2015 to 12,157 (21.43%) locations in 2019, to 15,671 (27.63%) locations in 2020. States demonstrated considerable variability in the percentage of pharmacies with a CLIA-waiver, with a range of 2.92%–56.52%. Conclusions: Pharmacies have become an increasingly important location for patients to access CLIA-waived tests in the United States, now serving as the second largest provider of CLIA-waived tests by the total number of locations. Most of this growth occurred between 2019 and 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and concentrated efforts will be necessary to sustain this momentum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1574-1578
Number of pages5
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • CLIA-Waived laboratories
  • COVID-19
  • Community pharmacy
  • Point-of-care testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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