Man says he was refused service at Walgreens drive-thru after admitting he’s recovering from COVID-19

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

LANSING, IL – A south suburban man now recovering from COVID-19 said he tried to be honest about his status, and was refused service at a pharmacy drive-through.

With more people testing positive for coronavirus across Illinois, the reality is that those recovering from the virus will be out and about. But as CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, Darnell Turner said what he experienced when he pulled up to a Walgreens pharmacy left him feeling discouraged.

Turner described the experience of coming down with COVID-19.

“I woke up that morning gasping for air,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

Speaking from his home in Lansing, Illinois, Turner is now on the road to recovery from COVID-19. He spends most days at home.

But Turner ran into a problem Wednesday night when he pulled into a Walgreens drive-through.

“This actually the first time I had an issue with this Walgreens,” he said.

Turner said after paying for his prescription, he asked the pharmacist if he could buy some Tylenol from the drive-through.

“She said, ‘Why can’t you come and get the Tylenol?’ and that point I told her I tested positive for the COVID virus,” he said.

He was told to go to the end of the line. But since there was a long wait, he went home – and when he returned to the same window, he said the same pharmacist told him she could not touch his card.

“She told me to read to the numbers off of the card,” Turner said. “As I read the number, she stopped and said, ‘Oh, our computer system is down.’”

After waiting for 10 minutes, Turner said he then offered cash.

“I said: ‘Look, I have cash. Can I give you cash?’” he said. “She said at that point, ‘We won’t be able to service you.’”

He believes what happened at the store’s pharmacy was all due to him being upfront about his COVID-19 status.

“If I had not been honest and tell you I had the virus, I could have just walked in your store and shopped,” Turner said.

Walgreens offers prescription delivery.

“But what if you can’t afford that?” Turner said.

He filed a complaint at the Walgreens corporate office.

“I look at it as a lack of education or understanding,” Turner said.

But he hopes employees anywhere understand what he experienced could put others at risk.

“Because that will cause people to not be honest; to say, ‘I don’t care,’ and go into the stores and shop when we should care,” Turner said.

Walgreens pharmacy and operations communications senior manager Rebekah Pajak addressed Turner’s issue Thursday night.

“We are reviewing the case,” she said. “We do know that the customer was able to get his prescription – however, employees are able to take credit card information verbally at the window. We’re looking into why that didn’t happen at this store in Lansing. We will review the policy with the store.”