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Instacart to provide shoppers with free COVID-19 tests

The grocery delivery platform has stepped up its response to the health crisis in recent months

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Instacart has announced that it will provide its shoppers with new COVID-19 telehealth services, including virtual medical appointments and screenings. The company is rolling out the program nationwide following a pilot program in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania earlier this year.

Consumers who use Instacart can take an online assessment if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. If the results appear to indicate possible infection, the shopper can set up a telemedicine consultation with a Doctor On Demand clinician who can determine whether or not a COVID-19 screening should take place. 

If a COVID-19 test comes back positive, Instacart shoppers will be “eligible to receive up to 14 days of extended pay to provide financial support during their recovery,” the company said. The program will last until the end of 2020. 

"It is critical that everyone has access to high-quality care in this difficult time, not just for their own health and safety, but for the health and safety of their families and broader community," Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor On Demand, said in a statement. "Instacart shoppers are providing an essential service for communities nationwide, and we are pleased to expand our partnership to ensure these shoppers on the front lines can quickly and cost-effectively access care, no matter where they are located."

Responding to the health crisis

The on-demand delivery platform is also implementing new health and safety policies. Starting next week, shoppers and users will see safety reminders in the app. 

Shoppers will be reminded to wear face masks in stores and when they come in contact with customers, and customers will be reminded to do the same. 

"As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across North America, we're taking additional steps to create a safe experience for customers and shoppers,” said Nilam Ganenthiran, president of Instacart. “Beginning today, we're rolling out a new policy asking both shoppers and customers to wear a face mask. We believe the simple act of wearing a face mask can help save lives and keep our loved ones, neighbors, and others in our communities safe."

The company added that nearly 450,000 health and safety kits have gone out to its shoppers. The free kits include masks, forehead thermometers, and hand sanitizer. 

In the early stages of the pandemic, Instacart shoppers staged a walkout to protest the company's lack of response to the health crisis. Shoppers said the company’s safety measures were inadequate and demanded the distribution of items like hand sanitizer. 

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