ORANGE COUNTY – On Saturday afternoon, members of Florida’s national guard were seen at the Orange County Convention Center parking lot, continuing to watch over the tents and cones that have already been set up for a community based testing site.
It is one of three federally supported sites that will only be open to first responders, health care workers and those 65 and older who are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The other two locations are currently in the Miami Dade area and Jacksonville, and the two combined locations have already tested more than a thousand people.
“If you don’t have symptoms don’t do a test,” said Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the Coronavirus Task Force set up in Washington D.C. “It is another way that the American people can make sure that we are preserving the resources that our healthcare workers need to minister and support those who are dealing with the coronavirus.”
Local health groups and doctor offices have set up their own private drive through test sites in Central Florida, including in The Villages, Ocala, and Leesburg. Gov. Ron DeSantis said another community site will be opened in The Villages to test even more people.
The Coronavirus Task Force continues to urge people to keep practicing social distancing for a total of 15 days to help stop the spread of the contagious and deadly virus.
“We encourage every American to listen to those state and local authorities,” Pence said. “For every American, this is what you can do to make a difference over the next week and few days to protect your health and the families health, but most especially to slow the spread and the potential for the coronavirus to affect the most vulnerable.”
According to a spokesperson with the Florida Division of management, the Orange County community based test site is expected to have a total of 10 drive-thru lanes and 2,500 collection kits sent over to accommodate the hundreds of people they expect to show up next week. DeSantis announced it is expected to open up on Wednesday.
DeSantis also announced while the community test sites are part of the state’s first line of defense to stop the spread of COVID-19, they are considering a new possible isolation plan for those who do test positive, which could use area hotels and convention centers as quarantine locations.
“I think the plan would be if you have somebody that presents, that doesn’t require hospitalization, you test them. You have them be isolated in a convention center, a hotel. Don’t go back home with your family because the people you’re most likely to infect are those very close persistent contacts.”