Isaias slows COVID-19 testing, but doesn’t stop it

State-run testing sites closed over the weekend due to the hurricane

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State-run COVID-19 testing sites along Florida’s Atlantic coast will be closed for the weekend and possibly through Tuesday depending on the track of Hurricane Isaias.

Despite the closures, Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t believe it will make a significant dent in overall testing.

Strict safety protocols were in place Friday at the state’s emergency operations center ahead of the governor’s briefing on the storm’s progress. Reporters received rapid tests and were screened upon entry.

For many Floridians, the hurricane will make it harder for them to get tested. State testing sites will be closed in high-impact areas along the East Coast including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

In the Jacksonville area, three COVID-19 testing sites will remain closed Friday through Tuesday as a result. They include the Legends Center at 5130 Soutel Dr., the Regency Mall at 9501 Arlington Expressway and Home Depot at 9520 Regency Square Blvd.

“The ones on the west coast of Florida are open,” DeSantis said Friday.

The governor said private labs, hospitals and community-run sites might decide to stay open through the storm. Those sites account for the largest chunk of tests statewide.

“Our sites because they’re outdoors with tents, you know if it were to get 40- to 50-mile-per-hour winds, it would just collapse, and so safety is paramount for that,” DeSantis said.

Only time will tell how big of an impact the testing shutdown will make on daily case totals though.

“Because some of these tests that get reported, I mean we’ll get data dumps for positives that were three weeks ago,” the governor said.

Since the track of the storm is still subject to change, DeSantis said if it moves further off the coast, state test sites on the eastern peninsula could reopen early.

He also noted that going forward he hopes to implement more rapid testing, especially in South Florida. He said that will make the daily case totals more reflective of what is happening in real time.