Barnett Park coronavirus testing site to remain open until Feb. 28

Mayor Demings says site will be funded for another month

One of Orange County’s busiest coronavirus testing sites will continue to operate at least until the end of February, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Monday.
One of Orange County’s busiest coronavirus testing sites will continue to operate at least until the end of February, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Monday.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – One of Orange County’s busiest coronavirus testing sites will continue to operate at least until the end of February, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Monday.

The future of the coronavirus testing site at Barnett Park was uncertain because county leaders had said there were no additional coronavirus relief funds to keep the site going beyond Jan. 30.

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“We are pleased to announce the Barnett Park testing site will remain open until the end of February,” Demings said.

The site is operated by Orange County Health Services and provides testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Residents can get a rapid or an antigen test or a PCR test at the site. Appointments are not necessary.

Demings said there is still a significant demand for the testing. The extension through February will be paid for through remaining CARES Act dollars and possibly county government general funds.

In a presentation to the Orange County Board of County Commissioner’s Wednesday, Director of Public Safety Danny Banks showed the demand the site brings, including an average of 1,500 people daily. The site even sees up to 2,000 on some days when demand is even higher. He said of those who get tested at Barnett Park, 87% are from Orange County, 7% from Seminole and 4% from Osceola, meaning it’s a service to all of Central Florida.

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“We are still seeing thousands and thousands of people a day that want to come and get tested,” said Banks. “Now was not the time to stop that availability for Orange County”

Banks said the county will be using $1.5 million dollars of general funds to fund the site through February, in addition to a small amount of leftover CARES Act dollars.

“It’s not an inexpensive endeavor, not only with our own CARES money but within our own budget,” Banks added. “We are looking at it month-to-month and that’s solely based on demand. We obviously see the value in our community.”

However, Demings said “there is every indication from the federal government that any of those related expenses will be reimbursable. So all of the details under the Biden administration now are being worked out. So that’s the good news.”

Anyone seeking a test can visit OCFL.net/testing for more information.

Since March, more than 99,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Orange County, including 895 people who have died.

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About the Author:

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News.