Testing demand remains high post Thanksgiving

Barnett Park testing site closes early Friday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County officials continue to report high demand for COVID-19 testing following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Most coronavirus testing sites in Florida reopened Friday after closing for Thanksgiving. Prior to the holiday, people lined up every day last week for testing. Many people said they were seeking tests before seeing family for Thanksgiving gatherings.

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Both of Orange County’s large-scale testing sites at Barnett Park and the Orange County Convention Center were forced to close the waiting line early Wednesday.

Both sites reopened Friday to long lines. The walk and drive-up site at Barnett Park stopped accepting new people in line at 3:30 p.m. to accommodate all the cars already in line.

The site will reopen again on Saturday at 9 a.m. and is operational seven days a week.

The state-run walk-up testing site in Volusia County remained closed Friday and will reopen Monday at 8 a.m.

Experts say those who want to get tested after hosting or attending a large gathering should wait a few days after Thanksgiving.

Paul Banerjee, Medical Director for Polk County Fire Rescue, and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Central Florida, and Mercer University said COVID-19 symptoms usually appear between two and five days after exposure.

“If you test too early, you will get a negative test with not enough virus to be uploaded to make that test positive anyway,” Banerjee said.

Virus symptoms can include fatigue, loss of taste and smell, a low-grade fever and a dry cough.

Different COVID-19 tests have varying accuracy, Banerjee said.

“You have the nasal swab which is the most accurate one, but it’s still about 72% accurate, you have the rapid test which are about 60% accurate,” he said, adding “Nothing is perfect.”

Florida continues to report thousands of new cases per day. After taking a break for the holiday reporting COVID-19 data, Florida health officials reported more than 17,300 new cases Friday for tests reported in the two days prior.

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