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Coronavirus testing site to open in Riviera Beach this weekend for 'under-served' community

Appointment needed to get tested
Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 20:27:18-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Meant to narrow the gap in a community city officials say is under-served, starting Saturday Riviera Beach residents will have access to their very own coronavirus testing center.

“We were desperate to get this done immediately,” Councilman Douglas Lawson said. “We decided we needed to have this done in our city because we have a predominately black community here, and we are being direly affected in this community.”

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According to city and state officials, coronavirus impacts African Americans more for a number of reasons.

“African Americans are at higher risk of death,” said Dr. Martine Senatus, with the Black Nurse Practitioners of Palm Beach County, a group who helped secure the funding and supplies for the testing center. “Mortality rates are higher. Rates of transition are higher because of lack of [personal protective equipment] and because of comorbid conditions, like asthma diabetes and high blood pressure.”

The new testing site at Wells Recreational Center is meant to eliminate any obstacles that might prevent Riviera Beach residents from getting tested for COVID-19.

”We are keeping records on an excel spreadsheet and disseminating the information,” said Senatus. “We are using that evidence-based practice to initiate other drive-thru [testing centers] in our area and protect our community.”

According to State Sen. Bobby Powell, more than 49 percent of positive tests in Palm Beach County lack racial data, meaning it’s difficult to say if a particular race or demographic is testing more positive over another.

“What we are seeing here in Florida and populations like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, where we have more dense populations, black people are being disproportionately affected,” Powell told Contact 5 investigator Merris Badcock. “So, this [testing site] is just one of the steps that we are all working together toward.

With about 1,000 tests funded by the state’s Department of Emergency Management, data collected will help the city officials decide next steps.

”We are going to be able to effectively regulate the numbers that are being reported to our city and know when we can actually effectively open up beaches and open up central locations,” Lawson explained. “If we know an accurate number, then we can say, ‘OK, let’s move forward with our opening up process.’”

Testing will begin Saturday, May 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Well Recreational Center located at 2409 Ave. H West, Riviera Beach, FL 33404.

An appointment is required and can be scheduled by calling 561-318-0280.