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Governor: ‘Golf cart’ drive-thru coronavirus test site at The Villages possible

‘They’re not going to be driving their automobiles but their golf carts,’ Gov. Ron DeSantis says

Events are canceled in The Villages amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Events are canceled in The Villages amid the coronavirus pandemic. (WKMG)

After the National Guard successfully launched a large-scale COVID-19 test site in Broward County, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he plans to open more sites like it around the state, including in The Villages.

Samples from more than 400 people were taken at the drive-thru test side in Pembroke Pines on Friday, DeSantis said about 8 hours after it opened. Throughout the state more than 9,000 people have now been tested, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The first National Guard testing site in Florida opened not far from where the largest concentration of coronavirus cases have been confirmed. At least seven cases are tied to an assisted-living facility after non-residents who were ill came into the facility and unknowingly infected residents, according to the governor.

“Construction workers, cooks and staff who were ill were allowed to go mix with the residents,” DeSantis said, adding people entering the facility were not screened.

Two residents at that Broward County facility have since died and six residents are awaiting their coronavirus test results, DeSantis said.

By Friday morning, more than 500 people -- including Florida residents and visitors-- have tested positive for COVID-19, 10 of those patients have died. Almost half of the state’s cases are in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

[MORE COVERAGE: Interactive map shows Florida coronavirus cases | Timeline: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

“The bad news in Broward and Miami-Dade, it’s continuing to spread through the community,” DeSantis said.

The key to better understanding the respiratory illness is to test more people, according to the governor, which means more large scale drive-thru sites.

“We would like to scale this up and hopefully replicate this around the state,” DeSantis said.

A similar FEMA coronavirus testing site at the Orange County Convention Center parking could open this weekend.

DeSanitis spoke about opening a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in the retirement community of The Villages, because of the demographic. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, those over 65 and people with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk for the virus. However, younger populations can still become critically ill as well, according to a CDC report released this week.

“Only at The Villages they’re not going to be driving their automobiles but their golf carts,” the governor quipped.

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