A drive-thru testing site operated by the National Guard is now up and running at CB Smith Park in Broward County.
The site opened at 9 a.m. Friday at the Pembroke Pines park. Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the site Thursday evening to preview the opening. The testing will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and will be free.
But the testing is not available for everyone. Only two groups will be allowed to receive testing: health care workers, and people who are particularly susceptible to the virus and are already showing symptoms.
DeSantis says he wants to ensure health professionals do not contract the virus so they can continue serving the community.
“If they test positive then that can potentially sideline a lot of the people that they’re working with,” DeSantis said.
Those who would feel the worst effects of the virus can also receive testing if they are symptomatic.
“The people who will meet the conditions are if you’re 65 or older, if you’re symptomatic, if you’ve been on a cruise or [in an] affected area, if you’re immunocompromised. That’s the group that’s gonna be the focus to start.”
Individuals will be required to show an ID at the site and must also drive up in a vehicle. Pedestrians would not be allowed, DeSantis said.
The death rate for those who test positive for the virus has sat above 3%. However, those calculations do not include individuals who may have contracted the virus, but are asymptomatic and thus survive without incident. Including those individuals would lower the death rate, but it’s unclear how many such individuals there are worldwide.
Most who do show symptoms develop a fever or cough and may have trouble breathing, though they do recover. But older individuals and those with underlying health risks are susceptible to developing more severe symptoms.
Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that anyone who wants a test can have one, states and hospitals and testing sites still do not have a sufficient number of supplies weeks into the outbreak.
“My hope is as we get more supplies, we’ll be able to expand the ranges for this drive-thru testing,” DeSantis said.
Memorial Hospital West is across the street from the site, though DeSantis said samples would not be tested there for the time being. That’s because Memorial’s lab is not yet up and running.
Instead, the samples will be sent to a private lab. That process could take a few days.