The Florida National Guard's first drive-thru coronavirus testing site opened in Broward County Friday at CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, with more than 700 people receiving tests on the first day.
A line of cars snaked through the park Friday morning as testing kicked off at 9 a.m. and will run until the maximum capacity of vehicles is reached for the day, seven days a week. The site is being run with the collaboration of Memorial Healthcare System.
At a press conference Saturday, Dr. Jennifer Goldman said those who arrive at the park for testing should expect three stages: screening questions to make sure they meet criteria, then a questionnaire from the National Guard about demographics, and finally, the actual test, which entails a swab through the nose or mouth.
If you do not meet criteria for testing but do not feel well, Dr. Goldman said, stay home and call your primary doctor. You can also try connecting with a provider via Memorial.now, although Dr. Goldman warned there could be a wait due to a high volume of calls.
The site is only providing testing, not medical treatment. Dr. Goldman added that if you are experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and elevated fever, go to the ER.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the site was expected to have 100 National Guard members with 5 separate lanes, including one just for first responders.
DeSantis visited the site Thursday evening to discuss why it was set up.
"Broward County right now in Florida is the epicenter of what we're seeing, so we need to be here for our friends in Broward and turn the tide on this thing," DeSantis said.
He said the initial goal was to be able to perform at least a couple hundred tests per day, and that tests would take about 8 minutes per car.
At a news conference Friday, DeSantis said about 407 tests were collected on the first day.
"We think that will be hopefully a successful model that we can replicate as we get more supplies throughout the state," DeSantis said.
The governor emphasized that even when more drive-through testing sites are up and running, it will only be for people who meet the CDC guidelines, healthcare workers and the elderly.
Combat medics with the national guard will be administrating the specimen collection. Memorial physicians and medical technicians will be on site to support combat medics.
The test will be provided only to those who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and meet the following criteria:
- First responders
- First Responders who are symptomatic: policemen, firemen, medical staff and essential staff that support the management agencies working toward keeping the citizens of Florida safe and informed. (Must bring ID)
- People aged 65 or older, with COVID-19 symptoms and chronic conditions (Must bring ID)
- Individuals who meet the testing criteria: symptomatic, have travelled international cruise or air or from an affected geographic area, or immune compromised with symptoms (Must bring ID)
- If the person does not meet the criteria, they will be directed to the exit
People who meet the criteria and need to be tested should enter the park via the intersection of Flamingo Road and Johnson Street, and they will be routed through the park to the screening station. The test site is drive-thru only not equipped to assist pedestrians, bikers and will not be allowed to enter. You must be in a vehicle. It’s recommended that you have enough fuel for expected delay of up to 2 hours.
Nurses, wearing personal protective equipment, will screen through prospective patients. If the person meets the above criteria, the nurse will provide a placard in the windshield for the patient to continue to the testing tents.
To avoid potential traffic delays near the COVID-19 testing site at C.B. Smith Park, drivers may use Sheridan Street and Pembroke Road for East/West travel, or I-75 and Hiatus Road for North/South travel, police said. Traffic is currently flowing smoothly, but may increase during peak hours.