Daytona’s only public COVID-19 testing site closes

On a recent weekday, there wasn’t much activity at the coronavirus rapid testing site at Daytona International Speedway.
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

The only free rapid coronavirus testing site open to the public in the greater Daytona Beach area is no more.

Advent Health is closing down testing centers across the state, including the one at Daytona International Speedway, at the close of business on Thursday, May 7 – after the Daytona Times’ deadline late Wednesday night.

Nationally, the number of confirmed cases and the death toll continue to rise from COVID-19, including in Florida.

Advent Health cites the decline in the amount of cases for closing the site. They are closing sites in seven counties over the next two weeks as business reopen.

Rate of increase reduced

“We are thankful that the number of COVID-19 cases in Central Florida is beginning to decline, thanks in large part to the social distancing measures in our community but also thanks to community testing which helped us identify those with the virus,” said Advent Health Centra Care President/CEO Dr. Scott Brady.

Local officials hope to have testing available in the near future for residents including Daytona Beach’s Midtown area. The 32114 zip code there is the unhealthiest in the county, according to a 2014 Florida health report.

“Housing Authority CEO Terrell Bates and I have been communicating with Advent Health. It is my understanding they will soon provide some testing in Midtown. We’re trying to solidify those plans,” said Zone 6 City Commissioner Daytona Beach Paula Reed.

Advent Health hadn’t confirmed or denied Reed’s understanding as of Daytona Times deadline. An email response hadn’t been received before the Daytona Times deadline.

Transportation an issue

A testing site in the community could be beneficial and convenient for Zone 6 residents, especially those who don’t have transportation to get to the Speedway.

Reed exclaimed, “In advocating for this. I’ve shared that our area is a very walkable and a bicycle riding area, but everyone doesn’t have accessibility to get to the Speedway. It would better serve this community to have a testing center here in the heart of the city. Many of these individuals work in service-oriented businesses and catch public transportation to work. There are also elderly people in the area.”

She believes a testing center in the area could stop the spread of coronavirus.

“There could be people already sick and don’t know it. If they don’t know that they’re sick, they could infect an entire family, the workplace and visitors as well,” Reed explained.

Thousands tested

More than 18,000 people have been tested over the space of approximately one month. Approximately two percent of the tests at the Speedway site came back positive.

Testing will remain available at Advent Health hospitals and Centra Care locations via doctor’s order.

“Advent Health remains committed to minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and using our resources to best serve our community,” said Brady.

Online registration

Appointments are required prior to arrival for the few remaining drivein sites that are open and can be made at  AdventHealthCoronavirusTesting.com. Registration for the Speedway site is now closed. Same-day appointments are not available.

The final day at other locations are as follows: Mall at Millenia in Orlando and Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, May 8; Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee and Posner Park in Davenport, May 15. Each site is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.

The tests are available to anyone who has symptoms or anyone who has had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, even if they are not currently experiencing symptoms.

No payment necessary

Those who wish to be tested do not need a doctor’s order prior to arrival. There are no out-of-pocket costs, regardless of insurance status.

Advent Health will cover the cost of those who are uninsured at the community drive-up testing sites. The test consists of spitting into a cup.

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