Gov. Ron DeSantis says more than 700 samples were collected in the first day of operation for a new COVID-19 coronavirus testing center in Broward County.
That drive-thru testing site is at CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines.
DeSantis said the original goal for day one was to collect 250 samples. But in a Friday afternoon news conference, he said a total of 407 samples had already been collected at the site.
In later comments, DeSantis said 745 samples had been collected in total Friday.
The testing is not available for everyone. Only two groups are currently allowed to receive testing: health care workers and people who are particularly susceptible to the virus and are already showing symptoms.
DeSantis said 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 going to be the focus to start.”
Individuals are required to show an ID at the site and must also drive up in a vehicle. Those restrictions led some to be turned away Friday, though an exact count was not available.
The National Guard is helping to conduct screenings.
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.
DeSantis said the limits on supplies played a role in the restrictions on who can be tested.
“My hope is as we get more supplies, we’ll be able to expand the ranges for this drive-thru testing,” DeSantis said.
“Once we get more data with all the testing and we can expand that, that’s going to help people make better policy decisions about what we’re doing in terms of closing this, closing that. Right now people are kind of flying blind because there hasn’t been enough testing done.”
Those swabs will be sent to a private lab for testing. But Memorial Hospital West is across the street from the site. Once its private lab is set up, the samples can simply be sent there.