COVID-19 testing opens in former K-Mart in Neptune Beach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the additional coronavirus testing sites coming to Jacksonville this week will open Thursday on Atlantic Boulevard in Neptune Beach. It will be the first public, free testing site at the beaches.

“I think widespread testing is going to do a lot of positive things,” said Telescope Health CDO Dr. Matthew Rill. “It does help us with understanding the prevalence of the coronavirus in this community, unfortunately, there’s a fair number of folks that are asymptomatic and contagious so they may be walking around the community spreading it without knowing it. Having the testing center in place and ease of access, we hope to catch those folks and we know they’re positive and they can stay home.”

The site which will be located at the former K-Mart shopping center lot and will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Any resident of Duval County or employee of the city of Jacksonville or one of the beaches communities can get a free test. Blood tests are limited to those 15 years and older.

People are asked to check-in, then wait in your car until texted to be tested. The testing is being provided by Telescope Health and they are prepared to handle 150 people each day, but it can be scaled up if there is more demand.

Testing during the first hour -- 7 to 8 a.m. -- will be reserved for high-risk individuals, ages 65 and older or those with underlying medical conditions, as well as first responders and health care workers with symptoms.

Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown said she and her fellow mayors have been trying to get a testing site at the beach for some time and she was particularly excited it will be open on Saturdays.

The city of Jacksonville opened a new COVID-19 testing site at Ed Austin Regional Park in East Arlington on Monday and plans to open a site in Mandarin by the end of the week. The Ed Austin site tested 125 people on its first day with an average wait time of 13 minutes.

The city’s longest-running and largest testing site -- Lot J of TIAA Bank Field -- closed Wednesday. It reopens today at Regency Square Mall.

With the added capacity from city-operated testing, as many as 5,000 people can be tested for COVID-19 in Jacksonville every day. The new sites are expected to remain open for six months.

Testing at the three new sites will be conducted in time slots based on people’s names and their vulnerability to the virus.

Because of these sites, three federally-run “surge” testing sites that opened last week for a short period of time and dozens of commercial testing sites now offering coronavirus testing, wait times at the existing sites such as Lot J have dropped from hours to minutes.

For an appointment at one of the federal testing sites -- Regency, First Coast High School and Frank H. Peterson Academies, visit DoINeedACOVID19Test.com.

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