Counties are closing their COVID-19 testing sites to focus on vaccine distribution

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
A drive-thru testing site will return to CenturyLink on Friday. It was previously a walk up site.

Counties are shifting their focuses from COVID-19 testing to vaccine distribution. This week several testing sites closed permanently. The state of Florida is also looking at converting many of its testing sites to vaccination sites.

But, those testing resources could be taken from underserved communities since you need a car to get to most of the larger testing sites

The demand for coronavirus testing is high based on the number of people we see waiting in lines every day. And, of course, the demand for a COVID-19 vaccine is off the charts. Governor Desantis wants to see if there’s a way to convert testing sites like CenturyLink into vaccination locations.

The Department of Health in Collier County shut down all but one of its testing sites so that staff can focus on vaccine distribution. Kristine Hollingsworth is the Public Information Officer for DOH-Collier.

“We understand there’s frustration from the community that they may want to get tested and not receive the vaccine. We understand that but we need to push the vaccine out to the community quickly,” said Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth said that it just makes more sense to turn test sites into vaccine sites. “We already know traffic flow. We already have spots available at these facilities,” Hollingsworth said. “That was the easiest way to push out the vaccine quickly, safely and efficiently.”

In Charlotte County, the Health Department is trying to serve both vaccine and testing needs. So, nurses give in the morning at the Harold Avenue Rec Center and then do COVID-19 tests in the afternoon in the afternoon at the Department of Health building.

Dr. Josesph Pepe is with DOH-Charlotte. “Yesterday we were running about 45 minutes ahead of schedule with vaccines. That’s is to me that we have the capacity to vaccinate more if we had more vaccines,” said Pepe.

In Lee County, the Department of Health put its mobile testing sites on hold in support of the vaccination effort. Yet, CenturyLink is still open seven days per week.

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