One by one, cars pulled into the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches Saturday in West Palm Beach to be tested for coronavirus.
The drive-through testing site expanded to four lanes on its busiest day, with nearly 850 scheduled appointments.
Inside some windows, some patients held up a simple sign to say thank you to the men and women putting their lives on the line here in Florida, while others pack their bags to head north.
“It’s really not something that we’re new to. It is a higher level, but we always had a passion to help,” said Quinn Hazellief, a nurse on the Treasure Coast.
Hazellief and her friend, Julie Franklin, are answering the call. They are both nurses at Saint Lucie Medical Center who specialize in critical care. They are flying to New York City Sunday, a hotspot where COVID-19 cases are surging. Hazellief and Franklin are going to help the overwhelmed doctors and nurses with a lack of personal protective equipment.
“Our nurse hearts need to help . There’s too big of a need there to not,” Franklin said.
The nurses are leaving their families behind for three weeks, and heading into the unknown.
“We don’t know what hospital we will be in... we don’t know what area we are going to be working,” Hazellief said.
All they know is they will be working 12-hour shifts, 21 days in a row, as the battle against the Coronavirus rages on.
“I think the fact that we have no idea what we’re doing and we’re terrified... knowing that we’re going to help no matter what outweighs that,” Franklin said. “This is what we were created to do. I assumed the risk when I became a nurse.”
Florida is now the state with the second-highest number of tested individuals. Only New York has tested more individuals.
The testing site at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will be closed on Sunday to prepare for testing next week.
Nearly 700 appointments are scheduled for Monday.
If more test kits come in, the phone lines will reopen Monday morning to schedule appointments for Tuesday.