First COVID-19 testing site opens in Monroe County

MARATHON, FLA. (WSVN) - The first COVID-19 testing site has opened in Marathon for Monroe County residents.

Medics tested patients at a makeshift drive-thru clinic at Marathon Community Park, located at 200 City Marina, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday. They will continue to do so between those hours for the foreseeable future.

Nurses and doctors with Community Health of South Florida will be on site this week and are only seeing Monroe County residents who have made an appointment in advance.

Patients who have recently traveled abroad or had direct contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient are being tested before the general public.

“We want to make sure that we screen so that we can get the people in who really need to be screened,” said Marianne Finizio with Community Health of South Florida.

They said they only had approximately 20 test kits to use on Monday and are working to secure many more.

“At this time, there’s been a national shortage on testing,” said Dr. Jacob Lyon with Community Health of South Florida. “We’re working every day to get more tests.”

“If it was up to me, we’d be testing everybody,” testing site supervisor Tera Barnes said. “But by testing everybody, then some people who really need to be tested aren’t going to be tested.”

According to the Florida Department of Health, there are only two residents in the Keys who have tested positive for COVID-19. One patient has been identified as a 72-year-old woman who recently traveled out of the country. The other patient, a 54-year-old woman, also recently traveled outside of the U.S.

Monroe County officials have closed the Florida Keys to tourists and leisure travelers.

Restaurant dining rooms have been closed but delivery is still available to customers.

Marathon Bait and Tackle remains open, although they are not seeing the usual crowd they expect.

“Normal day this time of year we were probably 80 to 100. I’ve seen probably 20 so far today,” said Marathon Bait and Tackle co-owner James Jones.

Lodging at hotels and short-term rental properties have been shut down to guests.

U.S. 1 remains open, but county officials said they are reevaluating closing the road every day.

Those who own properties in the Keys are allowed in and out of the island chain.

Residents who are feeling symptoms of the coronavirus can book an appointment by calling 305-252-4820.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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