BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Local health officials are urging residents to remember that we’re still in a COVID-19 pandemic despite reopenings.
On Wednesday, Volusia County had 849 confirmed cases with 46 confirmed deaths while Flagler County had 200 cases with four deaths. Florida overall had 67,371 cases and 2,801 deaths.
“We’re still in a pandemic. Everyone should continue to practice prevention including social distancing, hand-washing and wearing face covering when outside of their home,” said Holly Smith, communications manager and government liaison for the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County.
Two new testing sites opened in east Volusia this week.
Free to the public
The Florida Department of Health and the City of Port Orange have opened up a drive-through testing site on Halifax Drive, north of Aunt Catfish’s on the River.
A testing site also opened at the former Holly Hill Middle School. The site is run by Family Health Source.
The Port Orange site will operate through June 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. Pre-registration is suggested. Call 386-274-0500 then select the pound (#) sign.
The Holly Hill site is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. until noon. It’s also free and open to the public. The Holly Hill site also tests children.
Health officials also say it is critical to have testing in the area.
“DOH-Volusia is partnering with local governments to offer community-based testing in areas at risk of poor health outcomes from COVID-19 infections and to mitigate the potential spread of the virus in these areas,” Smith explained.
“By conducting the PCR (nasal swab)testing in communities, the agencies are making an effort to protect populations at increased risk for severe complications associated with COVID-19 and decrease community spread by identifying cases for isolation and contact tracing.’’
The health department is also working to address the virus in the Black community, which is affected at disproportionate rates. Daytona’s 32114 zip code, which entails Midtown, has 74 confirmed cases.
“Additionally, community testing will help protect our community’s most vulnerable populations from experiencing health inequities associated with COVID-19,’’ Smith noted.
“These vulnerable populations include older adults, residents with underlying medical conditions, those who are economically disadvantaged, people living in public or community housing, residents who frequently commute to different counties and communities, and very often essential employees who have not been able to remain at home during the past two months.”
Health officials also are aware of the rising numbers, but say it’s expected.
“The state is watching those numbers daily. Continued progression through the phases on a downward trend is what the state is looking for,” Smith said.
“However, a slight increase in cases is not unexpected as we continue to expand testing capabilities. One of the key metrics is the availability of our healthcare systems to handle the number of cases presented.”
More testing sites are coming, including one in New Smyrna Beach from June 12 to June 18.
“Over the next three weeks, DOH-Volusia will be partnering with cities in east Volusia County to host pop-up testing sites,” Smith stated.
“These sites will be in Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach. Each of those cities will be distributing the information on the sites. DOH-Volusia and local governments recognize the importance of making sure testing is available for anyone who needs a test.”
The City of New Smyrna Beach, the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County and Volusia County Schools also are offering COVID-19 testing Tuesday, June 16, through Friday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until supplies last.
The drive-through testing is located in the north bus loop at Chisholm Element School, 557 Ronnoc Lane. Pre-registration is suggested; the registration call center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. To pre-register, call 386-274-0500, and select #.
For more information on testing, visit volusia.floridahealth.gov.