Florida approaches 1 million COVID-19 tests

Gov. DeSantis at the Home Depot in Boca Raton.
Gov. DeSantis at the Home Depot in Boca Raton.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced from a Home Depot in Boca Raton on Friday May 29th that Florida is approaching the 1 million COVID-19 test results mark.

“That equates to 600,000 more tests than the State of Maryland has administered”, DeSantis said. Over the past 12 days of testing, the positivity rate has ranged between .67 percent and 3.3 percent.

DeSantis listed some of the sites where drive-thru testing was implemented such as Palm Beach, Broward-Dade, Orlando, Jacksonville, Panhandle, Sarasota-Bradenton, Fort Myers, Tampa and said that the state has the capacity to administer 10,000 a day just from the drive-thru sites. “But yet, we typically have demand for about half that much,” he said. 

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“So we told people, come if you want to get tested. It doesn’t matter your age (18 or older or younger must have an adult’s permission), doesn’t matter if you have symptoms. Please come out and get tested.” Those drive-thru sites will remain open even though the demand is not meeting capacity, he said. 

Walk-up sites have been able to get to under served areas such as agriculture industry workers and other neighborhoods that don’t have access to medical care.

DeSantis then thanked Home Depot and Publix for making testing more accessible and announced that three testing sites would be opening in Home Depot parking lots and that three sites would be opening in three Publix parking lots.

“If you’re shopping and you want to get a test, you don’t even have to leave the parking lot to do it, he said about the Boca Home Depot location.  

DeSantis said that about 200,000 tests have been administered at drive-thru sites and about 40,000 tests at walk-up sites.

“We get more test results back in a day than some of these smaller states have done throughout the entire course (of the pandemic.),” DeSantis noted.

DeSantis said that no resources would be taken away from the efforts to keep testing residents and staffers at the 4,400 long-term care facilities throughout the state.

“This puts the risk in perspective,” he said. More deaths from COVID-19 have happened in the age 90 and above bracket than in 65 age and younger bracket.

DeSantis also mentioned the Disaster Preparedness 2020 tax holiday which starts May 29th and ends June 4th. The tax break applies to supplies and equipment related to preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. The Boca store manager presented a Home Depot apron to the governor and thanks him for his service.

Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida Division of Emergency Management said that he wants to see people take advantage of the free testing being offered a drive-thru and walk-up sites and that the sites are set up for essential workers to get tested often so they feel safe in what they are doing.

Moskowitz said the decision to close long-term care facilities to visitors came from communicating with other states such as Washington which had an extensive outbreak early in the pandemic.

Moskowitz said this will be the first time the state will enter hurricane season at a level one emergency status and that they are leading the charge on non-congregate sheltering by using hotels for evacuations.

Know your evacuation zone and your home Moskowitz said, “so that you can shelter in place. 

“Make sure you have seven days of supplies,” he advised in the event of a hurricane coming.

Click here to see the list of supplies covered by the tax holiday. https://floridarevenue.com/disasterprep/Pages/default.aspx

Gov. DeSantis mentioned the efforts of contact tracing teams who throughout the pandemic who  researched cases and helped contain the spread of the virus. More will be added with part of the challenge being that COVID-19 has asymptomatic spreaders. DeSantis said the contact trace personnel at County and State levels are the “unsung heroes” who have done the leg work on tracking cases and identifying sources of outbreaks.

As of May 29, the Florida Health COVID-19 dashboard reports include antibody test results. In Alachua County 853 people have been tested for antibodies with 39 positives which is a 4.57 percent positivity rating.

Alachua County COVID-19 positive cases are at 378 with 7 deaths. Florida State cases are at 54,497 with 2,413 deaths. The city resident cases are as follows: Newberry 20,  High Springs 7, Alachua 15, Hawthorne 8, Micanopy less than 5, Waldo less than 5, LaCrosse 15, Archer less than 5 and Gainesville is 190.

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