coronavirus

Coronavirus Testing Site Opens at Hard Rock Stadium

The site initially only provided testing for first responders and people older than 65

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One of Florida's newest drive-thru coronavirus testing sites opened to the public on Monday morning at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

On Sunday, the site opened for only the testing of first responders, and officials said more than 350 went through the site. Testing began Monday for people over the age of 65 who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

At a press conference Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said healthcare workers who had come into direct contact with coronavirus patients were top priority.

"These people are putting themselves at risk to protect others, so we need to be able to protect them, for their own health but also for these hospitals," DeSantis said. "If one worker gets exposed, they may have to self-isolate, and if they had contact with other workers, they won't be able to see patients. So it's really important they have access to testing."

Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at a press conference Sunday to provide updates on the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak. The conference took place at Hard Rock Stadium, where a testing site will open on Monday.

Those who are older than 65 must be displaying symptoms of coronavirus, such as shortness of breath, cough and fever, in order to qualify for testing.

DeSantis he is seeking to expand testing as much as possible.

"It's a matter of supply, not a matter of will," he said. "We're trying to do it, a lot of people between 30 and 50 years old end up getting infected and some require hospitalization."

He added that once the site at the Hard Rock was running smoothly, there were enough car lanes available to be able to expand the site and offer testing to other individuals.

The site is being set up by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and National Guard, and it is the second federally supported testing site to open in Florida. The first was in Duval County in the city of Jacksonville, where DeSantis said there was much less demand for tests than there has been in Broward.

"Non-essential" businesses throughout Broward County are being ordered to close, as the area has become the epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic in Florida.

DeSantis said a third federally supported site was set to open in Orange County on Wednesday. He also mentioned the testing site that had been set up at CB Park in Pembroke Pines, which was set up by the Florida National Guard in collaboration with Memorial Healthcare System.

According to the governor, 745 people were tested at CB Park on its first day of operations, with another 701 people being tested Saturday. It will be open 7 days a week at 9 a.m.

"Florida is seeing more reported positive cases, and some of that is to be expected," DeSantis said at the press conference.

"As testing has increased, we have seen more overall cases, but the percentage of people testing positive has declined. Even under criteria where you have to be symptomatic (to get tested), the vast, vast majority are testing negative for this virus."

DeSantis added that personal responsibility and social distancing remains crucial in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Here's the good news: there's a lot you can do just in your individual lives to be able to protect yourself from acquiring the virus and from being able to pass it onto somebody else," he said.

While most of the coronavirus fatalities in the state have been cases of elderly people with underlying medical conditions, DeSantis said "we also know there's a certain percentage of people who, if they don't die, will require hospitalization."

He said Florida has a total of 18,131 beds state-wide, with 1,700 ICU beds, and at the moment 34% of hospitals have 50% or greater capacity available.

He also said there are six vacant medical facilities that are being evaluated in case they need to be utilized for the state's response effort.

"We do have capacity, but we have to do our part to limit the spread of the virus and not overrun our state's healthcare system," DeSantis said.

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