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As Duval County COVID-19 cases go up, so does demand for testing

Feds open 3 new testing sites in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Demand for COVID-19 testing continues to rise as Duval County surpassed 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

For weeks, residents wanting tests have seen long lines at testing sites. Now, there are even more options: some free and some at a cost.

At Lot J, Duval County’s largest testing site, there are often lines for hours. Patients said results sometimes took a week to come back.

White House officials call Jacksonville a coronavirus “hot spot.” Wednesday, the federal government opened three free self-swab testing sites, where appointments are required. To make an appointment, visit DoINeedACOVID19Test.com.

The new sites are at the Regency Square Mall, First Coast High School and Frank H. Peterson Academies. Wait times are less than an hour and it should take three to five days for results to come back.

But the sites will only be open from Wednesday through July 15, and many people don’t want the wait from these government-run sites and are going with private testing options.

RELATED: Jacksonville among 3 cities selected by feds for ‘surge’ COVID-19 testing

Millennium Physicians Group, which has dozens of locations in Northeast Florida, debuted a new way to test for COVID-19.

“It is a very rapid test, usually within 15 minutes you get the results,” said Oscar Rodas, M.D., medical director for the company’s Northeast Florida offices.

In many cases, insurance will cover the cost of the test. Self-pay is $100. You must be registered as a patient. Rodas said it’s a good alternative because many labs are backed up for more than a week.

“The laboratories are telling us that it’s now seven to 12 days just to get results,” he said. “They don’t have the manpower to run the test for 10 to 14 days.”

CareSpot by Baptist appointments are booking quickly, testing 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. Self-pay and insurance are available.

Similarly, CVS Minute Clinics are offering tests by appointment with rapid testing coming back within 30 minutes and lab testing now five to seven days because of the extremely high demand.

“It is recommended for two negative tests to be performed 24 hours apart for a patient to be deemed negative of the virus,” said Saman Soleymani, M.D., medical director for Avecina Medical.

Soleymani said his three offices and a separate mobile testing site are seeing upward of 700 people a day. Even then, they still can’t keep up with the demand for rapid tests, which are desired by people wanting to get back to work or travel. Office visits are booked eight to nine days out. Testing there ranges from $15 for insurance to $100 at the office to $150 self-pay at the mobile site in Arlington.

“We’re pretty busy. All three locations are 10 days out, drive-thru site booked for a few days,” he said. “A month ago, we would have 200 people waiting outside the door in lawn chairs, so we’ve spent a lot of funds in scheduling in an online way. We are doing a test every 5 minutes.”

Jacksonville-area beaches could be next to see a government-run testing site open. Leaders there said that should be secured in a few days.


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