Florida authorities have expanded criteria at the Hard Rock Stadium coronavirus testing site, bringing hundreds of more cars in per day and prompting officials to issue new rules and recommendations to help people weather long wait times.
The new criteria allows people with underlying medical conditions to be tested, regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms. People who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive are also allowed to be tested regardless of symptoms, along with first responders and healthcare workers.
Florida officials are also enforcing new rules aimed at the vehicles waiting in line, since wait times could last up to four hours. Cars are required to have working windows for the safety of the workers conducting the tests, and a full gas of tank is strongly recommended.
Officials also say only people in the first two rows of the vehicle will be tested, citing the safety of workers being compromised attempting to administer a test in the third row. No more than five people will be tested.
Mike Jachles, chair of the Florida Association of Public Information Officers, says the new rules are meant to ensure the safety of both patients and workers.
“We had cars that were overheating in line, we had cars whose batteries died, we had cars that ran out of gas,” Jachles said. “That creates a log jam in the line too.”
Last week, Hard Rock Stadium began allowing COVID-19 testing for all age groups so long as they showed symptoms of the virus or had close contacts with someone who recently tested positive.
Originally, the site acted as a hybrid for state and federal testing. The federal government only administered 250 tests a day for first responders and people who were 65 or older.
Once the transition was made into a state-run operation, Hard Rock Stadium expanded its criteria.
The mission, according to officials, is to test as many people as possible in one of the epicenters of the pandemic. Miami-Dade and Broward account for more than half of all cases in Florida.
Jachles says Hard Rock Stadium can administer 750 tests every day.
More than 13,000 tests have been administered since the site opened. On Sunday, 319 people were tested.