A new drive-through coronavirus testing site is expected to open at Marlins Park this week in a collaboration between multiple Miami public agencies.
Public health authorities are working with the Florida National Guard and municipal governments to set up a station where people can be tested for free and receive results in 1-2 days. The site will be expected to run 350-400 tests a day. The test will be available for the Miami-Dade County residents who will make appointments through 311, the county’s government services line. People will be connected with Jackson Health professionals for screening for symptoms before they are scheduled.
“We will have more details on Monday,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, in a video posted to social media Sunday where he announced the new site.. “There will be a hotline to call to make appointments for this drive-through site. We are finalizing details on the opening date.”
The Jackson Health System, University of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and the Miami Marlins are coordinating to open the testing site. Public health officials say ramping up testing is necessary to better understand the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said administrators are also exploring at-home testing to reach the city’s senior residents.
“Details to come,” he said on Sunday.
The Marlins Park testing site is separate from discussions to purchase more tests from the private sector through former FEMA director James Lee Witt, an effort coordinated by Commissioner Joe Carollo.
Sunday morning, the Florida Department of Health reported 67 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 830 cases. Eight of the 67 cases were in Miami-Dade County, bringing Miami-Dade’s total to 177. In Broward County, health officials reported 16 new cases, bringing the total to 180.
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South Florida has emerged as a hotspot for confirmed COVID-19 infections. Data released Saturday for the first time by the state health department shows that 37 city of Miami residents have tested positive with no recent travel history and no known contact with another person who was confirmed positive. Miami has the highest concentration of such cases in the state. The next highest: Tampa, with 17 cases.
Jean Monestime, a Miami-Dade commissioner whose Miami-area district has some of the lowest incomes in the county, said residents are desperate to know if they’re carrying the coronavirus. “The question I’m getting the most from constituents is: Can we get tested,” he said.
Monestime also said he’s heard concerns that the limited testing sites are too far away from some neighborhoods, including Miami’s Liberty City, where residents with low incomes can’t afford long car trips or don’t have vehicles of their own.
“In communities where people live paycheck to paycheck, they’ve already been out of work for a week. They’re definitely hurting,” he said. “They want to be conservative, and not use their last dollars to buy gasoline or call a cab or call Uber.”
Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.