ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A large-scale coronavirus testing facility will open as soon as later this week at the Orange County Convention Center and will be operated by the National Guard, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said.
The facility will operate as a regional testing site and is currently being set up, Pino said.
“As we speak, all the deliverables are being placed,” Pino said Wednesday during a news conference with other Orange County officials, adding that the site will be managed by the U.S. National Guard, with some county assistance.
The site could be ready by Friday but ultimately, FEMA will make the call on when it opens, according to Pino.
For local residents, Orange County is also working to open a smaller scale testing site near Alafaya Trail. That site will be open to people who meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria to be tested.
Pino and other county health officials stressed that residents should call their local health care provider should they have reason to believe they are infected with the respiratory illness.
Residents can also call the county call center at 407-723-5004 before visiting a healthcare provider. A staff member can screen people for COVID-19 and answer questions and if they determine they need to be tested, they will help set up an appointment. The call center is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We don’t want to overwhelm the place, call the number to be screened,” Pino said. “We will only test the people who meet the CDC criteria for testing.”
County Health Services Director Dr. Yolanda Martinez urged residents not to go to hospitals or emergency rooms without calling first.
“Please leave the ER and hospitals for people who need that level of care,” she said.
There is also private lab testing happening around Central Florida. Click here to see a map of drive-thru testing sites around the state.
Since Tuesday, Orange County has three more people who have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the area patient count to nine. The county is not experiencing the surge in infections like Broward and Miami-Dade counties, which have the most throughout Florida.
South Florida accounts for more than half of the 314 cases in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health database.
“For some reason, we don’t know why we are experiencing a lower level of cases than Miami and Broward,” Pino said, later adding, “We have been lucky so far. This could change very quick.”