The omicron variant is continuing its surge, with the U.S. breaking its daily COVID-19 case record in the pandemic on Tuesday, recording more than 265,000 new coronavirus cases.
What You Need To Know
- Seminole County leaders passed out 10,800 free at-home tests for people at Seminole State College
- Many people, however, still went away empty-handed
- Officials hope Wednesday's event will alleviate massive demand at testing sites in central Florida
- SEE ALSO: Orange County sets new record of single day positive cases being recorded with over 2,500
And medical experts are predicting that spike will only get worse after the New Year’s Eve holiday.
People across the sunshine state are out in force, filling testing sites to capacity and seeking at-home tests they can take.
Early Wednesday morning, Seminole County leaders passed out 10,800 free at-home tests for people at Seminole State College. Cars lined up for hours for the chance to get the tests, but it wasn't enough to meet the massive demand. Still, many residents say they’re grateful that the county is trying to help at all.
“It wasn’t too bad. It really wasn’t," said resident Phil Graves. Graves said he waited in line at Seminole State College for about an hour and a half to pick up the free at-home tests being handed out. He said he's happy to have them.
“Because a lot of people are in line for a reason and this is a good thing, and I think Seminole County is doing a great job," Graves said.
Still many cars went away empty handed as the more than 10,000 at-home tests were passed out in minutes.
Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris said he's hoping this will alleviate massive demand at testing sites in central Florida. Barnett Park in Orlando closed early again on Wednesday as the site hit capacity quickly from families waiting for COVID-19 answers.
“Unfortunately, testing is hard to come by these days, it’s in short supply right now. It’s hard to find a place where you don’t have to wait in line for hours to get that test. But nonetheless, testing is a really important aspect of making gatherings safer,” said Dr. Michael Muszynski, an infectious diseases specialist.
Muszynski said the Biden administration’s plan to mail out millions of tests will help make it safer for people to gather, travel or go back to work. But, he said, state and federal leaders need to be doing far more.
“The 500 million test kits the government is going to make available in the next few weeks is great, however it’s got two problems. First of all, it’s not enough tests, it should be maybe three times that because people have got to test everyday. And the other thing is you have to order it online and it’ll take a day or two for you to even get the tests,” Muszynski said.
Getting more tests out and results in quickly will be key to fighting rising case numbers in the coming weeks, Muszynski said.
For those coming through the line at Seminole State College, these at-home tests are vital.
“Oh, it’s a world of difference, because at least we know," Graves said. "I mean, see? This is great."
Seminole County Emergency Management has passed out more than 50,000 free at-home test kits throughout the pandemic, paid for through federal grant funding. With such a high demand, county leaders said they have ordered more, hopeful they’ll be able to keep offering residents this free option moving forward.