Ten COVID-19 testing sites statewide were temporarily closed Monday due to protests over the death of George Floyd, but at least five will reopen Tuesday.
The five confirmed to reopen were closed because members of the Florida National Guard were reassigned to help maintain the peace in Tampa and elsewhere as some peaceful protests turned violent with looting and fires. Five others were closed at the request of local government officials for safety concerns.
Drive-thru testing sites in Brevard, Escambia, Lee, Sarasota and Volusia counties will reopen Tuesday after guardsmen were diverted over the weekend. Drive-thru sites in Duval and Miami-Dade counties and three walk-up sites, two in Broward County and one in Duval County, will reopen at the discretion of the local governments.
After DeSantis activated the National Guard Saturday, 100 guardsmen arrived in Tampa Sunday afternoon at the request of Mayor Jane Castor. The Governor also activated 350 guardsmen in the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center near Starke and 140 in Miramar to respond across the state if necessary.
Protests, some turning into riots, have broken out across the country in outcry over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police last week.
Castor made the request to support critical infrastructure protection and local law enforcement. On Sunday, she called for a 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in response to Saturday night protests that turned violent.
On Friday, the officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — but that appeared to provide little balm. Many protesters are demanding the arrests of the three other officers involved.
As of Monday, more than 1 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida and 56,830 have tested positive. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz say the demand for tests falls short of the state’s expanding testing apparatus.
The National Guard support state-run testing sites in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Division of Emergency Management.