Orange County considers 2nd COVID testing site due to high demand at Barnett Park

Barnett Park site testing about 1,000 people a day, closing early due to capacity limits

Monday proved to be another busy day at Barnett Park. The county-run COVID-19 testing site reached capacity around 3:30 p.m. closing early due to the high demand of people wanting to get tested.

“I’m here because my daughter went to a local camp that was shut down after one day because of a COVID outbreak, so we want to make sure we’re safe at home,” said Veronique Conus who lives in Orange County

Conus said she and the adults in her family are vaccinated, but is concerned about her kids who are too young to get the shot.

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“We tend to have a false sense of security when we’re vaccinated, and people start sliding back and then ‘Oh no, the kids are sick,’” Conus said.

For a majority of the day, there was a line of cars winding through Barnett Park and out to Colonial Drive. Hundreds of people waited to get a COVID-19 test Monday. Some waiting upwards of two hours.

While some people were getting tested because they have symptoms of the virus, others were doing it as a precaution.

“We’re vacationing and here to get tested because it’s required for us to get home,” said Desiree Wilson who was visiting from the Bahamas.

“I participated in a lot of group activities, so just conscientious,” said Mary Ferroni who lives in Orange County.

The county is reporting about 1,000 COVID tests a day given at Barnett Park. The demand is so high, the site has closed early several times in the past week after hitting capacity. County leaders are now looking at the potential for opening a second testing site.

“It’s very staff intensive when you have 1,000 people we’re testing on a daily basis. We have to make some determination whether or not we can contract with a provider that can add staffing in a quick manner, so all of that is being worked out,” said Mayor Jerry Demings.

A large number of positive tests are also affecting contact tracing efforts, according to county health director Dr. Raul Pino.

“In this environment, we have also moved to be very selective and prioritize who we track and who we do trace investigation and isolation and quarantine as the numbers are larger than we can handle in 24 hours,” Pino said.

Keep in mind, there are other free testing options at retail pharmacies including Publix, CVS and Walgreens.

There is no word yet on where or when the county could potentially open another testing site. The Barnett Park testing site is open seven days a week 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is needed. Barnett Park is also a vaccination site offering vaccines from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and does not require an appointment.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.