Florida to cast a broad net on COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 testing
COVID-19 testing

Florida ranks third in the nation for COVID-19 testing according to Gov. Ron DeSantis who announced that 403,275 results have been reported as of May 1st.

Gov. DeSantis said that as the state prepares to enter Phase 1 of reopening on May 4th, “We want to make sure we have as many opportunities for testing as we can.

“As we get people back to work, it’s important to put people’s minds at ease,” he said. 

As of May 3rd there were 35,463 positive COVID-19 cases and 1,364 deaths reported by the Florida Department of Health 

DeSantis was in Pensacola on May 1st where he announced the location of the state’s 10th drive-thru testing site at the University of West Florida softball complex.

The two-lane site has the capacity to perform 400 tests a day, he said, and added that most drive-thru sites in the state have not had enough demand to meet capacity and that was a “good sign.”

DeSantis said anyone could get a test, but did not clarify if this is the case for the rest of the drive-thru or walk-up testing sites throughout Florida.

There are no restrictions, DeSantis said other than being 18 years old and up.

“If you have coronavirus symptoms you can come get tested,” he said. “If (you are) a first responder or law enforcement you can come get tested.

“Even if you don’t have symptoms but you have some reason to believe that you may have been exposed to coronavirus, then you can come and get tested. It’s meant to be broad, it’s meant to cast a broad net. We want to be able to identify as many cases as we can.”

Almost 100,000 tests at the drive-thru sites throughout the state so far, DeSantis said.

Ten walk-up testing sites throughout Florida have completed 10,000 tests, he added.

DeSantis said more official announcements about testing will be made early in the week about a rapid test mobile lab that will travel the state.

“We have acquired a mobile lab for (rapid) testing,” he said. “It’s in an RV and we want to drive that around the State of Florida.”

The mobile unit can be dispatched to assist in areas where testing reveals clusters of positive results.

Both Walgreens and CVS are opening up testing sites, DeSantis announced.

“Walgreens will be opening nine drive-thru testing sites in Florida and seven will have antibody testing,” DeSantis said and added that, “Walmart has partnered with Quest Diagnostics and will have five drive-thru sites across the state.

CVS first partnered in March with governors of Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island to offer testing. 

And according to an April 27th press release, “CVS Health will offer self-swab tests to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria. Testing will be scheduled online and take place at select CVS Pharmacy locations in parking lots or at drive-thru windows; no testing will take place in-store,” start in May.

“Just remember how hard it was to try to find a lot of tests at the end of February,” DeSantis said. “You’re going to be able to go to Walgreens now.”

Walgreens announced in a press release on April 17th that they had opened nine drive-thru COVID-19 testing locations in five states. “Select Walgreens locations in Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas are now offering drive-thru testing, with Walgreens pharmacists overseeing patients’ self-administration of the COVID-19 test, using Abbott’s new ID NOW COVID-19 test.”

On April 27 Walgreens today announced plans to “open COVID-19 testing locations in 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, as the company further expands drive-thru testing to help meet the growing need in communities nationwide.”

With this latest expansion, Walgreens said they will, “focus its efforts on improving access to testing in underserved communities, and over time will also be working with companies to provide testing to employees, to help more businesses re-open in the weeks and months ahead.”

COVID-19 links of interest:

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard:

ttps://fdoh.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/8d0de33f260d444c852a615dc7837c86

COUNTY EXECUTIVE ORDER:

https://alachuacounty.us/Depts/Communications/Documents/ADACompliant/EO_20-12%20v_EO%2020-21.pdf

STATE EXECUTIVE ORDER:

https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-112.pdf

ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES:

https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-91-compressed.pdf

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