JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – COVID-19 testing has become a major headache as many people have experienced long lines at testing sites throughout Jacksonville.
News4Jax spoke with several people who have been to the drive-through testing site at Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field within the last week and waited up to four hours.
Kim Pryor told News4Jax she was first in line at Lot J on Thursday, arriving at 7:30 a.m. -- the testing site opens at 9 a.m. -- and she was able to get through more quickly.
“Everyone was very professional, Pryor said. “It did take quite a bit of time. I think I was finished up about 10:38, so it was a little over an hour and a half from the time they opened.”
But Blanca Campos said she had to wait six hours in her car Friday to be tested at Lot J, which can test up to 750 people each day.
“We were there from 9 in the morning to 3 o’clock before we finally got done,” Campos told News4Jax.
Campos wasn’t showing any symptoms, but was tested because her co-worker at the orthodontist office she works at tested positive for COVID-19.
Campos said Wednesday she still hadn’t received her test results.
“I called and they said they were just barely started working on it on Saturday, but my daughter’s friend, who got tested on Monday, already has her results,” Campos said.
Those getting the antibody test, the one that can tell you if you have been exposed in the past, can get results right away at Lot J. As for the regular test, where they swab your nasal passage, those results are now taking a lot longer.
“Certainly, with the increased demands at the test site and across the state, the labs have an increased workload as well,” Lot J spokesman Mike Jachles said. “Initially, they were saying three to four days for the swab test results. ... But the labs are working hard to try to turn those test results around as quickly as possible.”
Long lines have also been an issue for other sites in the area. There was a record crowd at the Legends Center on the Northside on Wednesday, with over 500 tested, and Thursday that site reached capacity just after Noon.
Dr. Saman Soleymani, with the Avecina Medical, said because of the recent spike in cases throughout the state and in Duval County, the urgent care facility is also working to meet the demand for testing.
He said patients are being tested every five minutes throughout the day and are booking at least a week in advance.
“Three or four weeks ago, we were doing 100 tests a day total, so about seven to 10 of those were positive. Now we’re doing 400 tests a day and 33 of those are positive,” Soleymani said.
He said a factor for increased testing at Avecina Medical is employees at businesses having to get tested because of a co-worker testing positive -- like Campos, who said she has to test negative twice before she can go back to work.
“It’s frustrating because I’m missing work and I’m stuck at home and I really can’t go out anywhere in case. I don’t think I’m positive, but if I happen to be positive, I don’t want to get people sick,” Campos said.
Soleymani said to help with the demand, don’t get tested just to get tested -- only go if you feel you have been exposed or have symptoms.
But Jachles said they want everyone to be tested who wants to be, even if they aren’t feeling sick.
“What we are suggesting is people that don’t have symptoms, these are the asymptomatic carriers that you’ve heard about,” Jachles said. “Those are the people who pose the biggest threat to infecting other people. So those are the people we want to get tested. Of course, if you are sick we will test you but really our best advice is if you have symptoms is to check with your health care provider and follow their directions.”
Avecina, CareNow, CareSpot, Crucial Care and the Legends Center (with a signed waiver provided on-site) will accept children for testing also. Children won’t be tested at Lot J.
Some people were turned away Tuesday when the Lot J site closed early due to bad weather and they couldn’t go back Wednesday because the site was shut down for the day because of severe wind damage from Tuesday’s storms. But the site reopened at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday the city is looking for a new location that has indoor capacity now that summer storms are a regular occurrence. He said a testing site at the beaches is also in the works.