ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – By lunchtime at Barnett Park Thursday drivers didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes to get tested for COVID-19, compare that to a more than 2 hour wait in early January. In fact, on Jan. 25, the site reached capacity at 1:45 p.m.
“We have seen a little bit of a slow down at Barnett Park,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.
The lines looked similar at the statewide testing site at the Orange County Convention Center Thursday afternoon. According to state officials on Wednesday the site administered 1,859 tests compared to the week between Christmas and New Year’s they were administering more than 2,500 a day.
Just this week, Osceola County’s Department of Health said they were reducing its testing from 3 days a week to 2 days.
“We have seen it reduced a little bit,” said spokesperson Jeremy Lanier. “We have also allocated more staff to our vaccination response right now, couple that with the fact that we have a state-supported testing site at the Disney’s Maingate property and we have community partners that also offer testing, we think we are in a good position to reduce testing by a day.”
Back at Barnett Park the site is continuing to offer testing after the county fronted $1.5 million to keep the site running once their federal CARES Act dollars ran out. News 6 asked Mayor Demings if the decrease in the demand for testing could reduce the number of days the site is open. Currently, it’s open 7 days a week.
“We haven’t made any decisions to do that,” Demings said. “That may be something we would do going into the future.”
County officials said they will determine to keep Barnett Park open on a month-by-month basis.
As for the potential reasons for the decrease in testing demand, Orange County Department of Health’s Dr. Raul Pino said there are multiple factors. First, a decrease in cases means a decrease in the need for testing. According to state data, on Jan. 5 reported 17,370 new positive cases, some of the highest during the pandemic. Wednesday, the state reported 5,073 new cases.
“We have seen this before, when we went off the increase from last summer, we saw the decrease in demand. The pandemic drives this,” Pino said.
He also said as more people get vaccinated, fewer people need to be tested.
“The impact in the vaccination, you can already see it there. I think we are seeing that shift already,” Pino said.