ORLANDO, Fla. — Record numbers for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations because of the virus in Florida are increasing demand for testing, causing long lines and waits at Barnett Park, Orange County’s main drive-thru testing site.
What You Need To Know
- Record-breaking numbers of COVID cases and hospitalizations is resulting in more people at COVID test sites
- People are lining up at Barnett Park hours before the drive-thru site even opens
- People getting tested say they want to make sure they are not sick and won't infect others
- Coronavirus Live Updates: What to Know in Central Florida
On Sunday, some people were in lines before 6 a.m., well before the site opens at 9 a.m. Hundreds of people a day are getting tested, and Barnett Park has frequently had to close before its normal closing time because it has reached capacity early.
On Sunday, Florida broke a previous record for current hospitalizations, with 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The previous high was 10,170 on July 23, 2020.
That followed new CDC data on Saturday that showed Florida broke its one-day record for new coronavirus cases with 21,683. In the past week, Orange County has seen more than 1,000 new cases each day.
“Earlier, everybody was wearing masks and everything,” Orange County resident Malcolm DeNeal said. “Now people are just going about their business without masks and crammed in everywhere, so we’re worried. So, we’ve come to get tested.”
Orange County leaders have discussed possibly adding a second large testing site to help meet the demand.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) said Sunday she will send a formal request for a larger testing site.
.@OrangeCoFL — I’ll be sending a formal request on this but would be we able to open a larger testing site?— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) August 1, 2021
Constituents are struggling to get in & many can’t wait several hours for a test. The Fashion Square Parking lot might be an option? Or lot across the street?
Thank you! https://t.co/TcaNIFghSs
One woman getting tested Sunday said she and her husband are vaccinated but have an insurance business and come in contact with a lot of people.
“We have customers coming in every day, so we just want to be proactive to make sure we’re continuing to stay safe and without illness,” Orange County resident Nicole Farquharson said.
According to an infectious disease expert from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, individuals who already have received COVID-19 vaccinations may be playing a role in the surge of cases in Florida and throughout the country because they are not aware they have COVID.
“People who are vaccinated can have as much virus in their throat as unvaccinated people, and therefore, the potential for spread is there,” Dr.William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center said. “The two lessons — if you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. That keeps you out of the hospitals. And if you’re vaccinated, when you get together with other people, put that mask right back on.”
The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the United States. The seven-day moving average for new COVID-19 cases for the state sits at nearly 16,000 a day.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the Florida Legislature, has limited local officials’ ability to impose measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.