Demand for COVID-19 testing rises ahead of Thanksgiving Day
Orange County, Florida – Across central Florida on Thursday, cars wrapped around buildings, bullet yards and parking lots as people waited to be tested for COVID-19. Demand for testing is increasing across the region, including Orange County.
At the state-run Orange County Convention Center, officials closed the doors an hour and a half earlier due to demand. According to site spokesperson Mike Jachles, the increase in demand is due to the addition of rapid tests, an increase in the number of cases and the one-week Thanksgiving holiday.
“Currently, we envision a wait of over 90 minutes at the Orange County Convention Center,” Jachles said. “We have recently seen a high demand at test sites across the state, especially as the holidays approach.”
Robert Michalczak was lining up at the Orange County Convention Center on Thursday, getting tested before seeing his family on Thursday.
“I would love to see my grandson next week for Thanksgiving, and he is a child with special needs and I want to make sure that I can be as safe as possible before I go there,” a he declared.
Across the county in Barnett Park, Amir Alagic was also waiting to be tested.
“I’m being tested for COVID because I was exposed earlier this week and I’m going to see my family for Thanksgiving, just trying to be safe for everyone,” Alagic said, adding that if tested positive it will not be. family visit. “Absolutely not, that’s why I’m doing it, just to be sure.”
Demand at Barnett Park has been high since Orange County began administering rapid tests in the park last week. Due to success and demand, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced Thursday that he will open weekend testing at the site starting this weekend.
It’s important to note that the CDC says the safest way to be safe during the Thanksgiving vacation is to spend it with those you live with. For more information on vacation and travel, click here.
News 6 has contacted all central Florida health departments to see what type of request they are seeing and if the request is impacting the turnaround time for results. Here are the questions we asked and the unedited answers by county:
What is the average turnaround time for PCR test results? GenetWorks’ turnaround time is still 48 hours so far.
Does your county offer rapid tests at this time? Yes.
Are you seeing high demand on test sites? Yes. We have processed an average of 1,323 tests per day, or an average of about 1,000 people tested per day since it opened last Monday.
As people head off for vacation next week, when do you recommend that they get tested? When can the last person get tested? We will be offering testing services every day except Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to ensure everyone has access to testing services as needed. However, it’s important to mention that we closed the queue at the site this week around 4:30 p.m. to ensure we were done by 5 p.m. or at least shortly after 5 p.m. The public should therefore not wait until 5 p.m. to get to the test site as they will not be tested.
We hope to see what is the average turnaround time for PCR test results? 3 to 5 days on average for the tests we perform. That’s pretty consistent with our typical results processing timeframe a month ago.
Does your county offer rapid tests at this time? There are providers in the county that offer rapid tests.
Are you seeing high demand on test sites? Demand was higher this week on our public test site.
As people head off for vacation next week, when do you recommend that they get tested? When can the last person get tested? If a person tries to get tested before the holidays, they should get tested as soon as possible as it can take several days before they receive a result. However, it is important that you remember that all COVID-19 tests are one-time tests. This means that your results indicate whether you had the virus at the time you were tested. However, you could be exposed to COVID-19 the hour or the day after the test. This means that you should still practice mitigation efforts such as masking and social distancing during Thanksgiving, even if you have received negative COVID-19 test results.
What is the average turnaround time for PCR test results? We still see a processing time of two to three days if the sample is sent on the same day.
Does your county offer rapid tests at this time? Currently, DOH-Lake does not offer rapid tests for the general public. However, Lake County has partnered with Adult Medicine of Lake County to offer free rapid tests to residents of Lake County from Thursday, November 19 and through Tuesday, December 8. https://lakecountyfl.gov/news_releases/news_release.aspx?id=4657
Are you seeing high demand on test sites? We have seen an increase in the number of people coming for tests.
What is the average turnaround time for PCR test results? The turnaround time for results will vary depending on the lab and test request.
Does your county offer rapid tests at this time? The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County does not provide rapid tests. Please visit prepareseminole.org for specific test dates and locations and the type of testing offered throughout Seminole County.
As people go on vacation next week, when do you recommend they get tested? When can the last person get tested? State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place, including testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements on arrival. Follow national, local and territorial travel restrictions. For up-to-date travel information and advice, check with the national, territorial, tribal, and local health department where you are, along your route, and where you are going. Be prepared to be flexible during your trip as restrictions and policies may change during your trip. For more information on travel during the pandemic visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html
The average turnaround time for PCR tests offered at the Brevard County Florida Department of Health (DOH-Brevard) drive-through test site is 48 hours. Over the past week, we have provided an average of 96 PCR tests per day.
DOH-Brevard does not currently offer antigen testing, but it is available at the state-run testing site at Eastern Florida State College in Palm Bay.
Demand has been stable for several weeks.
Testing before Thanksgiving does not prevent someone from being or becoming positive during a holiday gathering; please see the recent Press release which includes the suggested precautions.
Different vendors and labs have different turnaround times. However, tests done at the health department take about 48 hours to get the results of a PCR test.
There is a state test site in New Smyrna Beach, 1000 Live Oak Street. More information is online at volusia.org/testing.
The demand for testing has increased dramatically.
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