ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Officials from the COVID-19 testing facility operating from the Orange County Convention Center announced Tuesday that testing would be extended past existing regulations to those with preexisting conditions.
“No longer will we have 65 and older as the major restriction as far as being seen at this facility, that will be dropped,” John Scott, commander for the Orange County collections site, said. “We are going to be adding that if you have any preexisting medical conditions. Some examples will be if you are diabetic, if you have asthma, you are more than welcome to come out to this site to be tested.”
The collection site, which will see anyone in Central Florida, had previously restricted testing to those who are 65 or older and first responders.
Scott said that this new allowance will largely run on the honor system, as many underlying health conditions are not visible and healthcare workers will not ask for proof of such condition.
Because of the extension of services, officials at the testing site are expecting to see a heavy influx of people wanting to be tested. Officials stressed the need for everyone who shows up at the testing site to be prepared with necessary items. The new criteria for testing is a fever of 99.6 or higher or respiratory symptoms or pre-existing conditions.
“Have your ID, have your health insurance card, even though it’s not being claimed through your health insurance, they’re still asking you to bring it to help with identification purposes,” an Orange County spokeswoman said. “Be prepared to answer the questions the nurses have in the pre-screening for you.”
The site was initially given 2,400 COVID-19 testing kits, but Scott said the site is on track to continue testing at least through April 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“At this point, we are well on pace, we have enough supplies to continue doing the tests that are asked of us,” Scott said. “It still will be 250 (tests) a day, so that’s why it’s important to be in the queue as early as possible so you can get tested.”
While testing kits are being used quickly, Scott said the site is on track to having supplies replenished so services can be continued.
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As of Tuesday morning, there were 6,338 cases of coronavirus in Florida, with 363 cases in Orange County alone.
The 6,338 figure includes 772 hospitalizations, 242 non-Florida residents who were diagnosed while visiting the state and nine Floridians who tested positive while in a different part of the country.
Travel appears to be to blame for 665 cases, contact with a confirmed case caused 892 instances, travel and contact are cited as the reasoning for 436 cases and the remaining 4,103 are under investigation.
Health officials have not said how many people who tested positive for the respiratory illness in the past four weeks have since recovered.