FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Another night and day, and more testing all across South Florida, In both Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
As South Florida continues to step up testing to combat the surge in COVID-19 cases. Several new sites are popping up as omicron spreads at a rapid rate.
The Vernon E. Hargray Youth Enrichment Center in Miramar opened for testing at 9 a.m., Thursday.
Several cars could be seen already lined up hours before testing was scheduled to begin.
Despite long lines, they appeared shorter than what was seen in the past few days.
“I woke up at 6 [a.m], but I think I’ve been here… it’s almost been an hour so far,” said Randolph Rameau while waiting to get tested. “I think I got tested on Monday, and it was a five-hour wait at C.B. Smith Park.”
“I actually live in Miami, but I drove all the way here,” said Michelle Garzon while waiting in line. “The lines have been ridiculously long, and I think it does discourage [people] sometimes.”
Michelle Garzon is a teacher and woke up not feeling well.
She’s hoping to get a PCR and rapid antigen test with negative results because her school is already short staffed.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced there will be alternative ways to test instead of waiting in long lines, and that some people shouldn’t be getting tested.
“If you’re just young and healthy, you don’t need to be running out and getting tested everyday,” he said. “Really, testing is supposed to lead to a clinical resolve, or what’s the clinical resolve if you have a positive test.”
He announced that the state will send out up to one million at-home test kits to make testing more accessible — initially for people in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
“Clearly, when you’re talking about long-term care facilities, you’re talking about senior facilities,” he said. “Those are the demographics that are gonna be more likely to take a positive test and then parlay that into treatment.”
Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale opened on Wednesday at 8 a.m. Cars were lined up at least two hours before.
“I just want to get tested just to be sure that I’m safe,” one man said.
Next week, two more sites in Broward County are expected to open.
The first will be Trade Winds Park in Coconut Creek, which is set to open on Monday, and the second at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill which will open on Tuesday.
In Miami-Dade, a new site opened at Miami Marine Stadium.
“The additional sites, the home test kits, the home-bound testing that we’re starting, all of that is helping to relieve congestion at the sites,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
“It was better than everywhere else that’s four or five hours,” one man said.
The FTX Arena in Miami has been open for a few days. Those getting tested said it goes quickly.
“In and out within 15, maybe 20 minutes the most,” one woman said.
“Just remember we are in the 30’s when it comes to positivity rate. People are very alarmed, we understand that, so please don’t panic. We are doing everything we can to staff up, to add hours, to add sites,” said Cava.
“In general, omicron appears to be a less severe disease across the board,” said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“We have the ability to send out up to a million at-home tests, and we’re going to start by sending them to our nursing homes and our long term living facilities,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Hospitalizations continue to increase daily.
Nationally, there have been more 126,410 cases. In Florida, there were 8,406 cases reported. There are 935 people in Florida’s ICUs and 220 in the pediatric ward.
“The sheer volume of infections because of its profound transmissibility mean that many more children will get infected, and as many more children will get affected, a certain proportion of them, usually children that have underlying comorbidities are gonna wind up in the hospital,” Fauci said.
One woman spoke with 7News about why she took her teen daughter to get tested.
“Just trying to err on the side of caution,” she said. “We live in a multi-generational home, so [to] get back to any semblance of normal, then I think we need to be a little bit more responsible with what we’re doing.”
The site in Miramar will stop accepting cars at 3:30 p.m. but is open through 5 p.m.
The Florida Department of Health is also set to release new testing guidelines, emphasizing testing for those who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
They also said COVID-19 testing is “unlikely to have any clinical benefits to individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms.”
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