Southwest Florida now has more options for community members to get tested for the coronavirus. There is now a walk-up testing site in Collier County. And, unlike many other sites, this location doesn’t require local residents to have a doctor’s note.
A walk-thru COVID-19 testing site opened Sunday for Immokalee residents. And the line was steady all through the afternoon with people there for testing.
“Opening this site is just another layer of testing we can offer the community,” said Kristine Hollingsworth, Florida Department of Health in Collier County.
Free tests are available without an appointment. You don’t need a car, just your name, number and address, but you must be an Immokalee resident to get one.
“We understand the unique needs,” Hollingsworth said. “We understand there may be transportation issues, and this is why having a walk-up site, where people don’t have to worry about driving a car or taking a bus, we can bring this site to them.”
Although the service is limited to Immokalee residents, Hollingsworth says the benefits are far-reaching.
“The more information and more data we can get, the faster we can get a possible cure, or vaccine, to help combat this illness and save lives,” Hollingsworth said.
That’s exactly why Gov. Ron DeSantis said that with more testing comes more reopening progress. The testing site is among many opening statewide as part of the governor’s “phase one” reopening plan.
Two other sites will open Monday in Southwest Florida — one in south Fort Myers at CenturyLink Sports Complex and another in Lehigh Acres at the Walmart on Lee Boulevard. Both will be drive-thru sites.
The Immokalee site at 419 N. First St. is for walk-up testing. Social distancing guidelines will be in place, and visitors are required to wear a mask or cloth face covering.
Those getting tested do not need a doctor’s note or referral and don’t need to be experiencing any symptoms.
The test site is open Sunday through Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking is available at Immokalee High School.
“We do know that people can be asymptomatic, so they don’t show symptoms,” Hollingsworth said. “The more we can test, the more information we can get and the more data we can get on this virus.”
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers said its community is particularly vulnerable to the virus.
“We live overcrowded because that’s the only way to save money. So poverty basically brings us into this vulnerable situation,” said Reyes Chavez with the CIW.
The Department of Health said that, while Immokalee doesn’t have a hospital, the city does have locations with hospital bed availability where patients could be transported.
As for those two sites in Lee County, the CenturyLink Sports Complex site will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Monday. You do not need a doctor’s note or referral and don’t need to be experiencing any symptoms.
The Lehigh Acres testing site at Walmart, 2522 Lee Blvd., will run 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. starting Monday. This site does require that you are experiencing symptoms and also requires an appointment be made at www.MyQuestCOVIDTest.com. The test is free.