JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the past couple of weeks, people have lined up around the Springfield location of the Florida Department of Health. Officials said 300-400 people per day are flocking to the FDOH’s Jacksonville facility for a free COVID-19 test.
The increase of people wanting tests has swelled wait times up to 90 minutes, according to patients who spoke to News4Jax Thursday.
Many of those in line Thursday were understanding, but not all.
“I’m not going to lie -- I did expect it to be a little quicker. But that’s perfectly fine. I understand. You know, stuff happens,” Jaheim Johnson said.
“Outside in the middle of a pandemic? I mean, I’m upset,” Danette Chialtas said. “This is ridiculous. Who is running this city?”
It brings back visions of the first months of the coronavirus outbreak in Florida with hours-long wait-times at the mass-testing drive-through site at TIAA Bank Field. The state does not plan to return to stand-alone testing sites.
“While we are planning to set up testing and vaccination sites to address health disparities in underserved populations, there is not currently a plan to reopen a mass testing site,” Department of Health-Duval spokeswoman Samantha Epstein said.
Private clinics like Avecina Medial are also slammed with people wanting a test.
“Up to a few days ago, in the morning, at 8 a.m. when we opened, there would be 40 people standing outside and there was always a mad rush in the morning, said Dr. Saman Soleymani, CEO of Avecina Medical. “That would create a huge backlog.”
So this week, Avecina’s three clinics ditched walk-up testing, switching to an appointment-only model. While there are plenty of tests available, the logistics of a walk-in appointment take time and each clinic can only process about 100 per day.
“By us being able to schedule appointments throughout the day on avecina.com, we’ve now been able to reduce that wait time to maybe 45 minutes to an hour, which is significantly improved,” Soleymani said.
Soleymani said that the delta variant, which appears to be more contagious, also appears to be less subtle -- with most patients who test positive also showing symptoms.
“It’s pretty rampant,” Soleymani said. “If you were symptomatic now, you most likely have the delta variant. That’s how prevalent it is right now.”
If it’s been a while since you considered getting a COVID-19 test, here’s a reminder: If you don’t have symptoms but think you might have been exposed, wait at least 72 hours to make sure the test will be accurate.
Among the places to get a COVID test
Department of Health - Duval County
Free, walk-up testing is available Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Central Health Plaza location -- 515 W 6th Street. They hope to add Monday testing on Aug. 2. Vaccination information is listed on the events section of its website: duval.floridahealth.gov/events.
Avecina Medical (Test is billed to your insurance. $125 for self-pay.)
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at these locations:
- Duval County: 4160 Southside Blvd. #10 and 9580 Applecross Road #106
- St. Johns County: 800 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd. in St. Augustine, and 1633 Race Track Road in St. Johns.
Testing is available 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday at 5460 Blanding Boulevard and Thursday-Friday at 1680 Dunn Ave..
Nine locations in Duval County, three in Clay County, three in St. Johns County, one in Nassau County and three in Alachua County. Most locations are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Find the closest CareSpot.
MedOne Urgent Care (Collection may be billed as a doctor’s visit and/or lab test)
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 841 S. Ponce De Leon, Suite 4, St. Augustine
COVID-19 testing is also available at most CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and other pharmacies. Visit their websites for locations and hours.