WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is due to receive at least 45,000 at-home COVID-19 test kits from the state to be distributed to residents, officials announced Tuesday.
County Administrator Verdenia Baker said the county is expecting to receive 24,000 of those kits on Tuesday. Baker said she originally requested 250,000 test kits from the Florida Department of Health.
"We are getting prepared to have regional distribution sites throughout the county to hand out the test kits," Baker said. "It is not our intent to mail at-home test kits."
In addition, county commissioners voted unanimously to allow Baker to purchase up to $500,000 worth of additional at-home coronavirus test kits — or roughly 20,000 kits — for residents.
The sudden emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant has put a crushing strain on COVID-19 testing sites throughout Palm Beach County over the last few weeks.
Officials on Tuesday said several test sites saw a record number of patients last week, including roughly 3,000 per day at the FAU Tech Runway and 2,000 per day at the South County Civic Center.
Some sites have experienced wait times of at least two to three hours, forcing county commissioners on Tuesday to declare the testing situation an emergency.
"We have a really serious situation on our hands," said Commissioner Dave Kerner. "This isn't just a craze. We have a 30% positivity rate and people are very sick."
Baker said the details and logistics of the test kit distribution are still being worked out, but she proposed the idea of giving them out at regional sites on a first-come, first-serve basis, saying it's the "only way to do it fairly and equitably."
However, Commissioner Maria Sachs raised concerns with that plan.
"There are many people who really need these kits who may be homebound or seniors or unable to drive to this location to pick up a kit," Sachs said.
For a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites in Palm Beach County, click here.