New COVID-19 testing location opens in parking lot of Hard Rock Stadium

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - A new testing site for the coronavirus has opened in the parking lot of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

The drive-thru testing facilities at the stadium were open only to first responders and front line health care workers starting at 11 a.m., Sunday. It was scheduled to close at 3 p.m., but it remained open longer so that those who were already in line could be tested.

By the time they ceased operations for the day, over 700 first responders and medical workers had been tested.

“They were able to take samples from 713 first responders or health care workers,” said DeSantis. “The beta test was to let all the first responders and healthcare workers go through.”

DeSantis spoke at the Hard Rock Stadium test site, Sunday afternoon.

“You’ve got a lot of people who are working nonstop, putting themselves at risk in order to protect others, and so we need to have to make sure we’re doing all we can to protect them,” he said.

A police officer who spoke with 7News said he waited about three hours and 15 minutes before he was finally able to get a test.

Starting Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., people 65 and older who were experiencing symptoms were able to be screened for the virus at the stadium.

“We’ll have our division of emergency management, the [National] Guard will be supporting the local health department,” DeSantis said.

7News cameras captured the National Guard putting the final touches on the site one hour prior to its opening.

Not long after its opening Monday, the site stopped allowing people in to be tested. They said they needed to reassess the site and make sure they had enough materials and equipment needed to fulfill the remaining tests.

Desantis said, “We’re going to continue to send resources as we get them.”

“You’re talking about millions of masks over the next week or so,” DeSantis said. “We’re working every angle to get as many of these swabs down to the places that need it the most.”

After being screened, patients made their way inside one of the tents that have been set up, while still inside their vehicles.

Once inside, it is a three step process that takes between 10 to 15 minutes per vehicle. The first stop is an assessment that may include a temperature check. The second step is registration, which includes gathering names and contact information. Lastly, the swab is performed, and test results from the site can be expected in two to three days.

“We obviously want to identify people so they can get treated if needed,” DeSantis said. “For most people, you are not going to require a stay in the hospital. You’ll be able to stay at home, so the important thing is you do stay at home and that you don’t transmit it to anyone else.”

By 5 p.m. Monday, people in around 450 vehicles had been tested at the federally-supported site.

“You got a lot of people who are working non-stop, putting themselves at risk in order to protect others, so we need to make sure that we’re doing all we can to protect them,” DeSantis said.

The governor added that getting testing supplies remains a challenge. He said there is currently a swab shortage.

“The swab, when people come in to take the sample, there’s been a big shortage on that, so we’re working every angle to get as many of these swabs down to the places that need it the most,” he said.

According to the Florida Department of Health, as of 6 p.m. Monday, 13,965 people have been tested in the state. Of those people, 1,227 tested positive, 11,637 tested negative and 1,101 tests are pending.

DeSantis said most of the positive cases are younger people, so they’ll start ramping up testing for the younger population soon.

“If you look at how the data’s coming in in the United States, you’ve got a lot of people who are 30 to 50 who end up getting infected,” he said. “Not many fatalities in that group, but they do get infected, and some of them require hospitalization, so we want to be able to expand in that category as soon as possible.”

Testing continued in Pembroke Pines on Sunday, with long lines of cars seen wrapping around C.B. Smith Park.

The site has opened for first responders with symptoms, people 65 or over with symptoms, people who traveled to an international location with symptoms, or those who are immunosuppressed with symptoms.

At Broward Health’s mobile testing site in Pompano Beach, people are required to register before getting tested.

The testing site at Larkin Community Hospital in Hialeah is by appointment only, and the site is prioritizing first responders and healthcare workers.

In a video message, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he is working to have a free drive-thru testing site open at Marlins Park that is expected to open by the end of the week. He said there will be a hotline to make appointments to be tested at that location.

He supported the claim made by the governor in regards to the increase in young people getting infected.

“There are a lot of young people in this country that, today, are on in the hospital or even on ventilators, so it can hit the young, too,” Gimenez said. “We have some good news in that more testing kits are arriving. Miami-Dade County is working with our state and local partners to open new testing sites.”

Though testing extends until 5 p.m., the site closes its gates at 3 p.m.

A number of testing sites will be open Monday, including a new one in the Florida Keys, at Marathon Community Park. It is scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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

Complete list of testing locations

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