Florida National Guard can now test 750 a day at Lot J

Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department’s Amanda Ivory provides direction to Spc. Jeffrey Bucurel (left) as the Florida National Guard began to provide testing at at Jacksonville’s COVID-19 community-based testing site at TIAA Bank Field. (Photo by Sgt. Michael Baltz, Florida National Guard Public Affairs Detachment)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the state took over running the Lot J coronavirus testing site at TIAA Bank Field, the goal was to test more patients a day than the 250 the feds had been able to test.

The number of tests per day initially went up to 400, but on Thursday, the Florida National Guard, which has been deployed to help with operations at the site, told News4Jax it can now test up to 750 people per day.

The site was hampered by stormy weather this week and had to open late one day and close early on others. Monday, 133 tests were given out in between storms, according to a Guard spokeswoman. Tuesday, only 67 people were tested due to inclement weather, and another 70 were tested Wednesday morning.

“When we are open, we are going to get as many people as we can,” said Capt. Robert Borger, the officer in charge of the operation for the Florida Army National Guard. “Obviously, if we’re closed for a portion, it’s going to limit the amount of people we can get in for the day.”

For now, the Lot J site is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day or until the daily limit of 750 tests is reached.

Many of the soldiers at the site are trained medical professionals: paramedics, doctors and nurses. About 60 are on duty at Lot J per day. They can help lower the number of police officers and firefighters needed for the essential service.

“We’re here,” Borger said. “We are National Guard soldiers so we volunteered to assist where necessary.”

Testing at the Lot J site is open to people of all ages who have respiratory symptoms of the coronavirus, as well as health care workers and first responders who have had direct contact with confirmed cases.

The Prime Osborn Convention Center site is also opened for testing from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week or while supplies last.

UF Health will be conducting testing Thursday and Friday at the Twin Towers Senior Independent Living Community at 617 West 44th St. from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.