Gov. DeSantis announced Friday that he has ordered the National Guard to open a coronavirus testing site in Palm Beach County.
The announcement came just hours after West Palm Beach mayor Keith James said he had hoped to have a federal testing center in the county, but that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had turned down that request.
The drive-thru testing center will be located at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, and 100 Florida National Guard troops will help to build and operate it, according to the governor.
DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré, tweeted:
.@GovRonDeSantis' working with local @PalmBeachesFL officials to set up a drive-through testing site located at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. @FLSERT providing 1,000 collection swabs and 100 @FLGuard to set up and operate the site. Stay safe #Florida!
— Helen Aguirre Ferré (@helenaguirrefer) March 27, 2020
However, a FEMA spokesman tells The Palm Beach Post that additional federally-supported testing sites are not being approved at this time. “The state, county, or the private sector (hospital, medical facility, etc) can establish their own testing sites, and request supplies through the established system,” the spokesman said in an email.
With 318 people in the county diagnosed with COVID-19 and its death toll rising to six, DeSantis says the county needs a large testing center.
“Palm Beach County is a distant third, but there’s not been as many tests,” he explains. “I think it’s important to expand the testing there to get a better sense of what’s going on.”