Frustrations mount as COVID-19 testing remains limited

ORANGE CITY, Fla. — Frustrations are rising among people in some of the Orlando area’s outlying counties over the lack of available testing appointments.

According to pharmacy websites Thursday, the earliest available appointments for a coronavirus test in both Volusia and Lake counties was Sunday afternoon. Most of that day’s schedule was already filled.

READ: 12 people chose to quit their jobs instead of get a vaccine. Documents reveal why

Now that quick testing is more important than ever before – monoclonal antibody treatments have to be administered within the first few days of someone getting sick – many are unwilling to wait for an appointment or drive to Orlando.

To alleviate the demand pressure, Volusia and Brevard counties both announced a new testing site. Brevard’s will open on Monday at 2555 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera, while Volusia’s new site is at the Department of Health building in Orange City.

Unfortunately, both require appointments and neither will be open on weekends.

Given the circumstances, why aren’t more counties copying Orange and Marion and opening mass testing sites?

“We’re starting to have those conversations,” Victor Ramos, Deltona City Commissioner and Family Health Source Vice Chairman said.

READ: Marion County DOH opens COVID-19 booster appointments for eligible residents

Ramos and other local officials said they’d be helped if Florida declared a state of emergency, which would unlock funding to provide some of the services they needed.

However, he said another key change had been made by insurance companies that explains why most people have to fill out questionnaires and book appointments.

“You can’t just show up and say, I want to get tested,” he said. “Regulations have changed a little bit, and [the insurance companies] don’t want to pay as simple as before.”

Ramos said Family Health Source had been underutilized by Volusia County residents. The company’s locations in Deltona, DeLand, Daytona Beach and Pierson offer free COVID testing for people with insurance, as long as they qualify to be tested. Walk-in patients are welcome.

READ: Brevard County is seeing a high demand for COVID-19 testing, but few options available

However, testing can’t be the end-all, he said.

“If you’re not vaccinated, there’s a lot of places for you to go get vaccinated,” he summarized. “If you’re feeling ill, try to find a place to get tested. It is going to take all of us.”

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