State-backed COVID-19 test sites to start reopening

ORLANDO, Florida – With the threat of Tropical Storm Isaias diminishing, more than a dozen state-backed COVID-19 test sites that have been closed due to bad weather plan to reopen as of Monday.

Sites across Florida, including the Orange County Convention Center, closed Thursday night to give crews time to dismantle tents and pack their bags before the storm approaches the state.

Southeast Florida felt the impact of Isais on Sunday morning before moving to the central Florida coast later in the afternoon. At 5 p.m., Florida emerged from the storm’s uncertainty cone and damage reports were limited.

The Florida Association of Public Information Officers announced Sunday night that workers have already started the process of reassembling the Miami-Dade and Browardcounties sites, which have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

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This announcement was followed by a tweet from the Florida Division of Emergency Management hours later, informing the public that 15 state-backed test sites would reopen on Monday while the remaining locations would open over the next few days if conditions allow it.

Although the state-backed venues closed because they are set up outdoors and cannot withstand the wind and rain, many private venues continued to operate throughout the weekend.

Still, officials said that free sites temporarily shutting down could impact state coronavirus numbers.

“What is going to happen, I think, is that we will see an increase in our positivity rate, because we will do less testing. And I think the people who would really go and get tested during a storm – if we have the storm – are people who really feel sick, ”said Dr. Raul Pino of the Florida Department of Health on Thursday.

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On the other hand, Mike Jachles of the Florida Department of Emergency Management said there could be at least one advantage decrease in testing.

“It’s very possible that labs could take advantage of this opportunity and be able to keep abreast of testing and reduce turnaround times even further,” Jachles said.

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