TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The local nonprofit, FoundCare, set up Palm Beach County’s first free drive-through testing site for the coronavirus on Monday.
The testing in FoundCare’s parking lot near West Palm Beach is open to residents who have called the organization to complete a screening process and have scheduled an appointment.
“We don’t want to risk the fact that one patient will infect many, and so, we decided maybe we’ll do it outside where it’s a bit safer,” FoundCare CEO Yolette Bonnet said.
Those who do not have an appointment and an appointment code will be turned away. Only 100 tests were available Monday, but the organization hopes to get more daily.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Sunday evening that the Florida National Guard, in conjunction with Memorial Hospital in Broward County, is setting up free drive-up testing for coronavirus.
Nearly half of Florida’s known cases are in five counties in South Florida, according to health department data. As of Monday afternoon, there were 39 cases and one death in Broward County alone -- many of them connected to Port Everglades -- and 23 cases in neighboring Miami-Dade County.
DeSantis said hundreds of members of the National Guard will be brought in to help with the operation and he wants to get it up and running as soon as possible. DeSantis said he hopes to have more success than other states, like Colorado, that had difficulty implementing drive-up testing due to high demand.
DeSantis said Florida should brace for even more infections and he again urged residents — particularly younger people on spring break — to exercise caution and refrain from gathering in crowds.
The cities of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale -- popular among college students on spring break -- announced Sunday that they would close off some of their popular beaches and ordered "non-essential" businesses to close by 10 p.m. to prevent large crowds from forming.
The governor has been especially concerned about college students on spring break and other young people congregating in large groups.
“To have people congregating in these bars and beaches like this undercuts our efforts to protect our vulnerable population,” DeSantis said.
More new measures
DeSantis has directed the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears, in coordination with the Florida Department of Health, to issue social distancing guidance to restaurants and bars.
DeSantis sent a letter to the federal Small Business Administration to turn on the SBA loan program for small businesses.
DeSantis directed the Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter to allow state employees to donate and transfer their available leave time to other state employees to mitigate the impacts of school closures.
The Associated Press contributed to this report