Medical experts agree: the road to recovery -- both for our collective health and our economy -- must involve testing.
Beginning next week, testing for the coronavirus will expand to include the disabled in Miami-Dade County and potentially younger people at federally-funded sites now being taken over by the state.
The change for the disabled in Miami-Dade came after attorneys for the disabled sent a letter to the mayor and commissioners pointing out that for many disabled people, driving into one of the drive-thru testing sites is not an option.
"People rarely think of the folks who can't make it to the testing sites," said one of the attorneys, Matthew Dietz of the Disability Independence Group, noting those are some of the people who may need testing most. "A lot of times, they’re older and they have underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID- 19."
After getting the letter from Dietz and the Disability Rights Florida, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez Friday announced the testing would begin on Tuesday.
"A new home testing program starts next week for seniors and adults with disabilities 18 years and older who are experiencing symptoms," Gimenez said. It will be appointment only (the county says a number to call for appointments will be released on Saturday).
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel will go to the homes of the disabled and the tests will be conducted in partnership with Jackson Health System, Gimenez said.
Also Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said testing eligibility will expand at the Hard Rock Stadium and other sites in Orlando and Jacksonville to include anyone with symptoms, regardless of age, and all first responders and health care workers, including those in long term care centers.
Also included: people who have had extended contact with someone who is infected, whether or not the person seeking the test is showing symptoms.
Dietz, the advocate for the disabled, said, "I'm happy with the way it turned out in Miami-Dade County. I hope the same happens in Broward and Palm Beach county and across the state. There really has to be an alternative to drive-thru testing, especially for folks that have disabilities."
Broward County, which also received the letter from the attorneys, is working on a plan that would use county transportation to bring the disabled to testing locations. "The service will be made available as soon as they finalize all of the safety details," a county spokeswoman told NBC6.