Broward County leaders discuss rise in COVID-19 cases as new testing site opens in Pembroke Park

PEMBROKE PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County leaders met on Wednesday morning to discuss ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community as another testing site opened in Pembroke Park.

Koinonia Worship Center and Village, located at 4900 W Hallandale Beach Blvd., is the latest walk-up testing site to open in Broward.

Organizers expect to test approximately 1,000 individuals between Wednesday and Thursday.

Ernestine Williams, who was tested for COVID-19, said, “It’s very important to come out and be tested because you never know who has it. I have a mother, 86 years old. I’m gonna have to bring her back out there. It’s very important to be tested.”

Samantha Ponnick was also tested. “It wasn’t that bad,” she said. “It’s a little discomfort, but it’s not too bad. It’s doable. Everybody pretty much can get it. I think I stressed myself out more than I should’ve.”

Rep. Shevrin Jones spoke at a media conference and said he now feels great after recovering from COVID-19. He also said he knows well the importance of testing.

“Eighteen days of my life that I went through COVID,” said Jones. “There were five of those days that I did not think I would wake up in the middle of the night because it was that bad. I’m happy that we are able to bring this testing site here.”

He said from his own personal experience, no one wants to be sick or have a family member sick with the virus.

“We’ve set it open for everybody to come and get tested,” said Tina Vidal with CDR Maguire. “From our perspective, the more people to get tested, the better, and wherever you come from, you come from but as long as you get tested.”

“Within the State of Florida, every day we are seeing a different number — whether it comes to cases, whether it comes to hospitalizations, or whether it comes to the number of ICU beds that have now been occupied,” said Jones.

On the same day of the testing site grand opening, the Florida Department of Health reported another 9,785 new cases in the state.

Of those cases, 2,788 were reported in Miami-Dade, 1,170 were reported out of Broward and 43 in Monroe County.

“Forty-two thousand people in Broward County have tested positive for COVID-19,” said Broward County Mayor Dale Holness. “It’s not a joke. It’s not a hoax. Ninety percent of our ICU beds are filled. It means we are at a place where we must do more to stop the spread of this virus.”

Holness and Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said a big piece of the change will come in the form of enforcement.

“We are citing people. We are dealing with shutting down businesses, and we will keep that tone. This is a public safety issue. Unfortunately, warnings have not been enough,” said Tony.

So far, 40 restaurants have been shut down in the county over the past few weeks, officials said.

“We’ve taken so much more of an aggressive tone in that we are citing people,” said Tony. “We are dealing with shutting down businesses, and we will keep that tone.”

“Broward County is working very hard to not shut down this county again,” said Broward County Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief.

“Wear your mask, wear your eye coverings, wash your hands, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands,” said West Park Vice Mayor Brian Johnson. “Social distance or stay at home if you can. Avoid large gatherings and please follow all of the local emergency orders that you’ve heard about. Finally, get tested so you will know your status.”

Testing at Koinonia Worship Center and Village will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday. The first two hours of operation are reserved for seniors.

Another testing site is expected to become operational next week in Hialeah Gardens.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.