WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A new COVID-19 testing site opened Friday at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
City officials said the drive-thru site is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
No appointments are necessary for those seeking to be tested.
Medical personnel will provide both antigen and PCR tests.
The city said testing is free, but available insurance or Medicare/Medicaid programs will be billed to help cover the costs of testing.
People receiving a COVID-19 test should bring their insurance card to the testing center.
Drivers must enter from the Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and North Mangonia Circle entrance. This is being monitored and enforced by the police.
For weeks, the CDC has reminded the public about new precautions for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should they come into contact with someone with COVID-19. One of those precautions is being tested.
Wayne Matthews was among those at the Gaines Park testing site Friday morning.
"Being (tested) is very important because the numbers keep increasing, and it's real," Matthews said. "Your status can change in a heartbeat, so that's why it's important to get tested."
West Palm Fire Chief Diana Matty said as the delta variant surged this summer, so has the workload of her firefighters and EMS workers.
"Absolutely, our workload has dramatically increased," Matty said. "Our men and women are responding to 911 calls -- anything from car accidents to heart attacks, but a lot of what we're doing is COVID related."
She said the first responders take great care to save lives.
"They’re the ones in the back of the rescue truck taking these people to the hospital. They're going into their homes and providing supportive care if necessary and then taking them to the hospital in our trucks," Matty said.
The fire chief said it is important that emergency responders know the viral status of patients.
That is part of the reason the city has reopened the testing site in a centralized location.
"Even if you are vaccinated, it is still possible to test positive," Matty said.
The CDC issued new guidance last month for fully vaccinated individuals who have been around some with COVID-19:
- Get tested three to five days after their exposure, even if they don't have symptoms
- Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative
"It would be nice to know heading into the holiday weekend what one's status is because if somebody tests positive maybe they shouldn't go to that family barbecue and they protect those family members," Matty said.