Symptomatic testing lanes coming to state-supported COVID-19 testing sites across Florida

Rapid results coming to 2 Miami-Dade sites

FILE - In this July 8, 2020, file photo, National Guardsman directs traffic at a COVID-19 testing site outside Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens, Fla. As coronavirus cases surge in hard-hit Florida, so do the turnaround times for test results. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In an effort to reduce the turnaround time for results, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that all state-supported COVID-19 testing sites will soon have lanes specifically for people experiencing symptoms.

Already, some sites have symptomatic lanes but now the governor wants to expand that effort statewide. He also announced that the sites at Hard Rock Stadium and Marlins Park, both in hard-hit Miami-Dade County, will soon be able to provide test results to the elderly and those experiencing symptoms within 15 minutes.

[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

Test takers across Florida have recently reported that it takes a week or even two before they receive their results.

“If it takes seven days, then the test is basically useless at that time because even if you were infectious at the minute you tested, by the time you get it back you probably haven’t been isolating anyways, and you’re likely to not be infectious on the back end of that,” DeSantis said.

The change for those two sites begins Tuesday.

The governor didn’t say whether there are plans to expand the 15-minute antigen testing to other sites across the state, including the ones in Central Florida.

With more symptomatic testing lanes across the state, DeSantis said those who are feeling ill should be able to get their results in two or three days.

Currently, about 100,000 test results are received per day, which makes it difficult for labs to keep up with the demand, according to the governor.

The final change he announced Monday was antibody testing at all of the state-supported sites. The goal with that is to increase the number of people who are aware they have antibodies and can then go donate their plasma to help a hospitalized COVID-19 patient recover.

[READ: State-supported COVID-19 testing sites to start opening back up | After recovering from COVID-19, Orlando firefighters donate plasma to help others]

“So we’re going to continue to encourage people throughout the state of Florida to give blood if you do have the antibodies, if you’ve recovered from an infection, to go give the blood. That’s one of the reasons having the antibody lanes at these test sites are good, because if you do test positive, you can go give blood and you can help potentially save a life. It’s very, very important,” DeSantis said.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said all-state supported COVID-19 testing sites that were closed to Tropical Storm Isaias will reopen on Tuesday except for Hard Rock Stadium, Marlins Stadium, CB Smith Park, and Eastern Florida State College. These sites will reopen on Wednesday.

On Monday, 4,752 new COVID-19 cases were reported -- the lowest number the state has seen in more than a month.

Florida has now recorded 491,884 coronavirus cases and 7,279 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, according to the health department.

More than 3.7 million coronavirus tests have been performed in Florida as of Monday, officials said.

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