COVID-19 antibody testing site opens in Doral as Florida cases hit record-breaking high

MIAMI (WSVN) - A COVID-19 antibody testing site has opened in Doral on the same day the Florida Department of Health reported a record-breaking total of cases for the state.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez addressed the uptick in new reported cases in a video message posted on Thursday.

“Now, with the virus spreading just as we are opening up our economy, we are going to get tough on those who are violating the rules,” he said.

The call for a crackdown on new normal violators comes as hospitalizations are on the rise.

“The education period is over. No more warnings,” said Gimenez. “From now on, if we see a violation, we close a business immediately.”

Thursday morning, the FDOH released their daily report of COVID-19 cases and revealed there were an additional 3,207 cases, bringing the total amount of cases in the state to 85,926. This is the first time since the pandemic began that the daily rise in cases surpassed 3,000.

Miami-Dade added 581 cases to the county’s total of 23,854, and Broward reported an additional 299 cases, bringing the county’s case total amount to 10,111.

The new numbers were reported just after BioReference began antibody testing outside of Miami International Mall, located at 1455 NW 107th Ave.

Gimenez and Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez hosted the grand opening event.

“This type of testing is critical,” said Bermudez.

“Antibody testing goes beyond letting us know who has the virus right now and who might be contagious or need medical treatment,” said Gimenez. “Antibody testing actually helps us show who recently was infected, even if they never had any symptoms or got sick. Knowing who has antibodies is key to our understanding of the spread of COVID-19.”

Dr. Wael Barsoum, CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic Florida, noted there’s a significant increase in cases among people beween the ages of 25 and 34.

“These are probably folks getting tested before they’re going back to work. Many of them are asymptomatic so that we would not have caught them,” he said, “so, to be clear, it’s good that we’re testing them. It’s good that we’re catching it because it’s those folks that could unwittingly spread the disease to others.”

Especially the elderly, who are most at risk of dying of COVID-19.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious disease expert from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, feared for Florida’s large senior population.

“Florida has always made the stuff of nightmares, I think, for me,” she said. “The potential for the virus to take off there is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences.”

Dr. Barsoum, like other health experts, stressed the continued importance of frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing a face mask. He also has a message for those who are choosing to not wear a face-covering in public.

“It’s your right to take whatever risks you want to take with your own life. It’s really not your right to take risks with other people’s lives, and people have to go to grocery stores, people have to go to gas stations. You choosing not to wear a mask is essentially saying you don’t care about those around you.”

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, meanwhile, echoed Barsoum’s concerns.

“We’re very concerned. We’re sounding the alarm bells, and we’re also stepping up our enforcement to make sure that this alarming trend does not continue,” he said.

Gimenez issued another warning for businesses, saying he will shut them down if they do not follow COVID-19 rules.

“My directions with the Miami-Dade Police Department yesterday was, we have been very good with educating and now we need to enforce,” he said.

Police working in Miami’s business district are on the lookout for violations. If you see any, you are asked to call 305-4POLICE.

“Follow the rules, and let’s all work together to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Gimenez. “If we do so, we’ll be much safer for it.”

Testing at the Doral site will be conducted Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Those who would like to get tested can head to the parking lot between JCPenney and Kohl’s.

According to the BioReference website, patients who have valid insurance coverage will have no out-of-pocket cost for antibody testing.

To learn more about the requirements of getting tested for the coronavirus antibodies, click here.

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