Statewide task force calls for more COVID-19 testing at trusted venues

Getting tested at trusted venues: Members of a statewide COVID-19 task force say giving tests at places people are familiar with can help track the spread of COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Getting tested at trusted venues: Members of a statewide COVID-19 task force say giving tests at places people are familiar with can help track the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing has been steady at sites like the one at the Clanzel T. Brown Community Center in Jacksonville.

Bertha Stripling didn’t have symptoms but could’ve been exposed to the virus, so got tested there Thursday.

“I just wanted to be on the safe side,” Stripling said.

Keeping up with the demand, members of the Statewide Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Taskforce say adding more sites will also encourage vaccinations and educate people on the virus.

“We need to increase our community testing,” Dr. Monique Butler, chief medical officer of HCA Healthcare North Florida Division.

“HBCUs ought to be the venue, the trusted venue, because people feel good about going to venues that they believe in,” said the Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., president of the task force. “We’re asking also Edward Waters University in Jacksonville.”

Stripling said she would go to that site.

“That’s right in my neighborhood, so that would be great if there was one that close,” she said. “I would prefer coming to be tested instead of doing at-home tests because a lot of people don’t know how to do it, and if you don’t do it right, you aren’t getting an accurate read on it.”

LIST: COVID-19 testing sites in Northeast Florida

The state of Florida on Thursday released new guidance for testing, telling people who don’t have symptoms, there’s no clinical benefit for getting tested. But, if you have symptoms and are in a high-risk group, the guidance says you should get tested.

“If you don’t want to know something’s there, that doesn’t mean it’s not there, so being tested is a strong plan,” said Dr. Nancy Wright, a pediatric endocrinology specialist.

Many on the task force say the only way to track this virus and mitigate it is to increase community testing.

The president of the task force says Florida A&M University’s testing has proven to work in communities. It’s also implemented a mobile medical unit that has administered more than 300 vaccines and educated hundreds more on the coronavirus.


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