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As testing lines grow, no plan to bring back city-run sites, Curry’s office says

Long lines continued Thursday in Springfield at the Central Health Plaza for people to be tested for COVID-19.
Long lines continued Thursday in Springfield at the Central Health Plaza for people to be tested for COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Long lines continued Thursday in Springfield at the Central Health Plaza for people to be tested for COVID-19.

Some in line had been vaccinated. Others, like Ariel Robinson, have not. She said she waited over two hours to be tested.

“I feel like if they had more people doing the test, the lines will go a lot faster,” Robinson said. “I used to go to the Legend Center. It’s closed now. We have no choice.”

News4Jax asked Mayor Lenny Curry’s office and the Jacksonville City Council about why additional sites have not been opened for testing. A statement from the mayor’s office reads:

“At this time, we are not planning to open sites but we are monitoring the situation and will let you know if that changes. It’s a significant process to open a testing site. For starters, we would need to locate the funding and get legislation. Then we have to get a contract with a company who can administer the tests. This all takes time and has to go through all of the proper channels and approvals. Plus, we are not certain how long this wave will last. We closed sites prior to this because of a lack of patients.”

The response has State Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Democrat, puzzled.

“I have major concerns about that. I already have a note on my calendar to reach out to folks in the Biden administration. It’s time for us to bring back testing sites,” Gibson said.

The mayor’s office said when the city was running testing sites, it cost about $3 million a month to operate them. It urged people to visit other sites like pharmacies, but many have waiting lists and not all of them are free.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office told News4Jax that in addition to the site funded by the Department of Health, pharmacies had “many locations” offering testing. After News4Jax showed the governor’s office our reports on the difficulty people are having to get tested, a spokesperson referred our questions to the Department of Health.

As lines continue to wrap around the Duval Central Health Plaza in Springfield, it’s expected that even more people will need to be tested as the CDC is currently recommending that vaccinated people exposed to the virus get tested even if they are not showing symptoms.