Hundreds of cars again line up at Lot J testing site

Wait times at one Jacksonville church offering COVID-19 testing averaged 15 to 20 minutes

Hundreds of cars again line up at Lot J testing site
Hundreds of cars again line up at Lot J testing site

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 600 cars lined up Sunday morning at the Lot J testing site outside TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville, the Florida Association of Public Information Officers said.

The association said working air conditioning is needed and windows must remain up to maintain safety and be able to open and close.

Those trying to visit the Lot J site should be prepared to sit in their cars for hours, so also make sure to bring water, a phone charger and a full tank of gas.

News4Jax was already seeing cars line up along Gator Bowl Boulevard hours before Lot J, the state’s regional testing site that can test up to 750 people each day, opened Sunday morning. At one point in the day, the end of the line started at Maxwell House coffee plant, while the other end on the other side of the stadium stretched all the way from Talleyrand Avenue.

But just before 4 p.m., the association said the wait time at Lot J was 30 minutes.

According to numbers released Sunday by the Florida Department of Health, Duval County again broke its single-day record for new coronavirus cases. A total of 740 additional COVID-19 cases were reported Sunday morning in Duval County, bringing the county’s caseload to 5,588. The state Department of Health reported 8,530 additional cases since Saturday, raising the statewide total to 141,075 as of Sunday.

It has been clear this weekend that there’s a demand for COVID-19 testing in Jacksonville.

Early Saturday afternoon, the line at the Lot J site was cut off for the rest of the day due to the “overwhelming response.” Before the line was cut off, the association said at one point that the wait time was five hours.

The drive-through testing site is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

JaxReady said later Saturday afternoon that the line at the Legends Center testing site was also cut off for the day.

The city-run walk-up site, which can test up to 400 per day, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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But for those who didn’t want to wait bumper-to-bumper, two Jacksonville churches -- The Sanctuary at Mt. Calvery and Hopewell Church -- offered free COVID-19 testing this weekend.

“We just want to honor our church and represent our community,” said Hopewell Church Pastor of Operations Kevin Smith.

Hopewell Church in Mandarin helped test hundreds of people on Saturday and Sunday.

The church partnered with Florida Blue, the state Division of Emergency Management and the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce to turn a parking lot into a testing site.

Health officials and volunteers helped test more than 250 people on Saturday and had the ability to test up to 400 on Sunday.

Hopewell Church Outreach Coordinator Richard Preston said it was a church-wide effort.

“We’ve got the parking lot ministry. We’ve got security. We have pastors,” Preston said. “So we have a little bit of everybody from our ministry group helping out.”

Wait times at Hopewell Church averaged 15 to 20 minutes.

Smith said it’s important to have a testing presence in multiple Jacksonville neighborhoods and in primarily Black communities.

According to the Florida Department of Health, African Americans in Duval County make up 27% of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“We have so many African Americans that need to be tested and that have this COVID-19, and so we just want to be able to afford an opportunity to people in this community to get tested,” Smith said.

Several churches in the Jacksonville will take turns holding coronavirus testing every weekend through August 2.

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