Osceola County sees high demand for COVID-19 testing after holiday break

Travel, tourism and the holidays add to the demand

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – With the holiday break over, hundreds of people across Central Florida are getting tested for Covid-19.

James Delorenzo has symptoms and went to the 65th Infantry Veterans Park in Kissimmee to get a second test.

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“I did a home test and I tested positive, but I need to verify that that home test is valid,” Delorenzo said. “I have a little bit of a sore throat but that’s about it.”

Delorenzo arrived after 12:30 on the first Monday of 2022 and was surprised to see the long line of people -- among them, Mark Apigo and his friend Sophia DeJesus, who need a PCR test to travel abroad in three days.

“We’re doing traveling. I’m from Canada actually so she’s coming over to Canada, so we need a PCR test to cross,” Apigo said.

DeJesus said they spent Christmas with family but for New Year’s Eve they had to keep their distance.

“For New Year’s we were gonna meet up with another part of my family. But they were feeling sick so we couldn’t see any of them because we couldn’t risk not being able to travel,” Sophia DeJesus said.

“We thought we were in a good sign. We saw the trends down. Our positivity -- we were hovering around 3% or a little bit less than 3%, now we’re over 20% again,” said Bill Litton, emergency management director for Osceola County.

The surge in the county’s positivity rate comes despite Osceola County leading the Central Florida region with 79% of its population vaccinated.

“The fast spreading of this variant is concerning because it does seem to touch the population in a lot faster method than the Delta variant did,” Litton said. “Definitely that’s caused the uptick but also our travel and guests and visitors that came down for the holidays.”

Travelers like the López family visiting from Puerto Rico. They need a test done before going back home.

“Si no llegamos a la isla son 300 dólares por cada persona si no llega con la prueba,” Daniel López said in his native Spanish that if they arrive on the island with no test, each person would be fined $300. According to López, the island went back into lockdown from midnight to 5 a.m. due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Ali Mockdad with the University of Washington said testing is at its highest demand than ever.

“We are having a major problem right now with testing. There’s a lot of demand we are not able to meet up with the demand,” Mockdad said. “We were not prepared for it, unfortunately. We should have done a better job, but we have not.”

Mockdad also said healthcare workers are being pushed to the limit to help administer the tests.

“Healthcare workers are now putting up with a lot of problems. People are not happy, they want to be tested, they want their kids to go back to school, they have symptoms, and they cannot be tested.”

For information on Covid-19 testing sites, visit the Osceola County website.

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.