Holiday demand for COVID-19 testing, vaccines sees Orange County’s Barnett Park site at capacity again

Florida reported nearly 32K new cases Thursday, sets new pandemic record, CDC says

Some drivers waited more than two hours to get a COVID-19 test at Barnett Park Sunday.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Some drivers waited more than two hours to get a COVID-19 test at Barnett Park Sunday. Orange County will reopen another drive-up testing site Monday to meet the high demand.

Tyler Kobylinski said he and his friend Andrew Neal visit the park several days a week to play disc golf, but they’ve both recently had to navigate around the heavy traffic.

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“Before Christmas it was mostly dead, then it started to get busy towards Christmas,” Kobylinski said.

A day after Christmas, Barnett Park turned into what looked like a parking lot.

“It was backed up three lights before Colonial, it’s wild,” Kobylinski said.

Florida set a pandemic record for new COVID-19 cases in a day, reporting nearly 32,000 cases Thursday and surpassing the previous high set on Aug. 27 when about 28,000 new cases were reported according to the CDC.

The recent rise in cases fueled by the omicron variant.

“Nobody wants to see the numbers rising, it kind of puts you on your toes,” Neal said.

While people lined up in cars to get tested Sunday, there was little or no wait yards away for vaccinations at a site run by Orange County.

Arthur Marques, 11, brandished his Band-Aid after receiving his second dose of the vaccine.

“It shows that COVID is still out there, you can’t just take off your mask and relax when you know it’s out there,” Marques said.

Maria Leite, Marques’ mother, voiced her concerns about the rise in cases this time of year, coinciding with holidays and vacations.

“It’s when people just feel more comfortable and relaxed and stop wearing masks,” Leite said.

Leite said she is fully vaccinated and wants to protect her son, adding that you can be proactive in more ways than one.

“Take the shot and pray,” Leite said.

The Barnett Park testing site and vaccination site are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. An additional testing site will reopen at the Econ Soccer Complex and will also be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week, however both sites will be closed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

At 1:15 p.m. Sunday, the testing and vaccination site at Barnett Park hit capacity once again. Officials tweeted that services would reopen at 9 a.m. Monday.

Click here for more information on the coronavirus, as well as testing and vaccinations.

About the Author:

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