JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is expanding access to mobile testing for COVID-19 beginning on Friday morning.
Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday morning that the city is working with Baptist Health and Telescope Health to open a drive-thru testing site behind the Prime Osborn Convention Center, giving residents a way to find out whether they have coronavirus once and for all.
“With the increase in testing, we fully expect the number of positive COVID-19 cases to increase,” Curry said, noting that more testing opportunities will provide officials better access to more accurate information on the spread of the contagious disease in Jacksonville.
The mobile testing site will open at 11 a.m. Friday. It will remain open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, at least while testing supplies last.
It’s separate from a testing site run by Ascension St. Vincent’s and another being set up by the federal government outside TIAA Bank Field.
“If we don’t flatten the curve, which we are taking actions to flatten the curve right now, we could have a curfew,” the mayor warned. “We could have a full shutdown. I don’t want that happen.”
Curry said the testing site will only be available to city residents who have an appointment to be there. As part of that process, they will be required to undergo screening and obtain a doctor’s referral from Telescope Health before they drive to the convention center.
Anyone who shows up without an appointment or with a referral from another physician will be turned away.
While patients do not need health insurance to get tested, there is a fee associated with the process. It will cost people $25 if they use a promotional code with Telescope Health, or $49 without the code.
Asked about residents who don’t have access to the internet or their own transportation, Curry hinted that there could be additional testing sites rolled out at some point down the road.
“If you don’t have access to technology, you can show up to Lot J (on Saturday) for testing,” the mayor said.
To find out whether you’re eligible for testing, follow the steps outlined below:
- Once you’ve completed the registration form, you’ll be prompted for payment. Enter the promotional code (HERE4YOU) to pay $25 for the visit. Otherwise, it will cost $49.
- Then set up your appointment with a doctor between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight any day of the week using any device equipped with a camera and microphone.
From that point, it’s up to the physician to determine whether patients meet the criteria for testing. The criteria include: a fever of 100.4° F or higher combined with a cough and shortness of breath, or travel on a cruise ship within the past 14 days or travel to a known hot spot with the same symptoms.
Those who qualify for an appointment will receive an order for testing at the drive-thru testing site along with a specific date and time to show up. It’s required that patients bring that order with them, either on their phone or printed out and placed on their dashboard, when they show up for testing.
It’s worth noting that the city will prioritize high-risk patients, including those who are 65 years old and above, those with underlying health conditions, health care workers and first responders.
Below are some key things to remember on the day of your appointment:
- Don’t forget to bring both your driver’s license and a copy of your Telescope Health physician’s order.
- Stay in your car and keep your windows rolled up. Then follow staff instructions and the posted signs.
- You’ll receive a throat swab from a staff member (similar to the swab you would get to test for strep throat). Once collected, the sample will be sent off for testing.
- Results should take 3-5 days, and you will receive a phone call no matter if you test positive or negative.
- After your test, you’ll be asked to self-quarantine until you receive your test results.
“They will come with their order and pull up to the entry here. We will let them in once we prove there’s an order. They’ll pull up to the front and we’ll have people dressed in protective equipment who will swab them orally with one swab," said Tammy Daniel, a registered nurse.
In addition to the city’s drive-thru testing site, Ascension St. Vincent’s has already launched one of its own. That site, which opened Tuesday, is also requiring that patients be screened ahead of time. On Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to open its own site in Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field.