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The city and state finally have set up a free COVID-19 testing in Daytona’s Black community. Now residents are urged to show up.

Workers at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center prepare the testing site, which opens on Friday.
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

After prompting from area residents, politicians – particularly Volusia County Council Member Barbara Girtman – and organizations, free coronavirus testing is now available in Midtown, located in the heart of Daytona Beach’s Black community.

The walk-up COVID-19 testing site opens at 9 a.m. Friday, May 15, at the Midtown Cultural & Education Center, 925 George W. Engram Blvd.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Daytona Beach Fire Department, city employees, health care workers and the Florida National Guard were hard at work setting up the site.

The site comes a week after Advent Health closed the only one in the city at Daytona International Speedway.

‘Undertested population’

The new testing site is a partnership of the Florida Department of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Health, City of Daytona Beach, the National Guard and others.

“Under the lead of our city commission, we found that we have an undertested population in this city. Our commission really wanted to reach out and make sure we are concentrating our efforts on the community that need it the most,’’ said Daytona Beach Fire Chief Dru Driscoll.

“There are many who don’t have access or transportation. So bringing this to their neighborhood gives them readily available testing,”

The local NAACP, the Housing Authority of the City of Daytona Beach, the Black Clergy Alliance and the Minority Elected Officials organizations are also promoting the site which sits in the 32114 zip code, where many underlying health conditions exist.

As of Wednesday, there were more than 42,000 Florida cases and more than 1,800 deaths, to Florida Department of Health statistics. In Volusia, about 560 people had tested positive for the virus and there have been about 30 deaths. In the county, about 115 Blacks have tested positive, with nearly 40 in the 32114 zip code.

No pre-registration

Testing will be free to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. A person doesn’t have to exhibit symptoms or be a Daytona resident.

Those wishing to get tested are required to have a Florida identification card and health insurance identification. However, if, they don’t have either they might still be able to get tested. Test results are available within seven days.

“It’s a low barrier. We don’t want to create barriers to discourage people from testing. The test is 100 percent free with no pre-registration,” Driscoll said.

“We want you to show up and get your test. Those without ID may still be able to get tested. An insurance ID card works, too. Within seven days, call the Department of Health and they’ll have your results.”

Up to 200 a day

The site can test up to 200 people per day and will be conducted in tents in the parking lot of the Midtown Center. Tests are done by nasal swab.

How long the site operates remains to be seen.

“We’ll continue until the demand no longer exists. We will be open for at least two weeks, but expect to be even longer. As long as demand exists in our city, we’ll be here,” noted Driscoll.

‘Nothing to fear’

The hope is that the community takes advantage of this opportunity to stop the spread of the virus.

“In our city, we have multi-generational households where people have different ages of family members in a home. They may not have known that testing is available,” Driscoll noted.

“By bringing testing to them and an awareness campaign with all our partners, we can get the word out and let people know they can get tested and there is nothing to fear.”

‘Stop the spread’

The fire chief is urging people to take the coronavirus seriously.

“We’ve seen so many cases across the nation with people with pre-existing conditions suffering with coronavirus. We don’t want that to happen in our community,” Driscoll added.

“As this virus spreads in a community, many don’t know they have it. They feel fine, but they visit others and spread it. We want them to get tested. Those who are positive, we want them to isolate themselves and stop the spread.”

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