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Screen shot from Holly Hill Mayor Chris Via's Facebook post.

Coronavirus in Florida

Holly Hill Mayor Chris Via confirmed with COVID-19 — after 17-day wait

Chris Via is symbol of frustration over long waits for results.

Holly Hill Mayor Chris Via, who has become a symbol of Floridians’ frustration over sometimes having to wait weeks for coronavirus test results, has finally gotten his own answer, and it wasn’t good.

As reported by the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Via announced on Facebook Saturday that, after 17 days of waiting for results from one COVID-19 test, he finally got results after being retested elsewhere. And it showed he has the disease.

He said he and his family are doing well, after suffering minor symptoms for a few days. “I’m happy to say that my family and I are feeling great today,” he said in a Facebook video.

Last Monday, the Holly Hill Mayor joined an effort to get all of Volusia County’s leaders to press for express lanes in the county for coronavirus tests for people who are symptomatic, and to get prompt results back, within 72 hours. He and Volusia County Commission Chair Ed Kelley and the mayors of all the other 15 municipalities in Volusia united Monday in a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him open COVID-19 testing express lanes there dedicated to people suffering coronavirus symptoms.

In his Facebook post on Saturday, Via told constituents he has had multiple conversations since with the Governor’s office in the past week and is confident the service will come to Volusia soon, making the county the fifth, behind Miami-Dade, Broward, Duval, and Orange counties, with a priority system of express lanes and assured fast results for people already suffering COVID-19 symptoms.

“Seventeen days ago I received word that my family and I had been in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. Immediately, I took my family out to be tested and immediately we began to self-isolate ourselves here at home,” Via said in his Facebook message. “This was 17 days ago. And I’m frustrated to tell you today that we have still yet to receive our test results in.

“Because of this I decided to be retested earlier this week at a different facility. And we have no received those test results back. I have tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.

Via continued to strive to set aside his and his family’s situation as more of an example of a broader problem: that many Floridians are not getting test results back in anything approaching a timely manner. This was a point he and the other Volusia leaders pressed last Monday in their letter to DeSantis.

“There are a vast amount of citizens reporting that they are experiencing unacceptable wait times to receive their COVID-19 testing results. Many of our worried, and sometimes symptomatic residents, are waiting between 10-14 days instead of the promised 72-hour window,” their letter to DeSantis stated.

Via said he and his family suffered symptoms he equated to a very bad cold.

“This is frustrating to have to wait this long to have any answers,” he said in the video. “And I’m even more frustrated when I hear from many of you who are going through the same, exact scenario as my family has had to go through.

“No family out there should have to wait nine, 10, 14, or 17 days to receive their test results back, to make an educated decision on what they should do for their family. You have families out there deciding on, ‘Do I go back to work so I can continue to put food on the table for my family? Or since I’m feeling symptomatic, should I stay home to protect my colleagues and to protect the community?’ This is not a decision someone should make without knowing whether or not they are positive or negative,” Via said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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