Hundreds of people waited for up to two hours Saturday to get tested for the coronavirus at two new walk-up testing sites in Broward County.
The sites, located in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, were established to serve communities where residents might not have access to cars to get tested at drive-up sites, thereby making them an important step in fighting the virus in communities with predominantly African American populations.
The tented testing areas were scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until the 200 testing kits ran out. Some of those who were waiting in line were given bottled water.
“We absolutely need this now,” said Germaine Smith-Baugh, president and CEO of the Broward Urban League.
African Americans make up about 16% of Florida’s population but 20% of its COVID-19 deaths.
“It is an unfortunate and painful fact that this coronavirus is killing African Americans at a greater rate than any other group across the nation,” Smith-Baugh said. “We do not want Florida to reflect the nation in this way. … This virus is no respecter of age, race, ethnicity, income or geography. It does not discriminate.”
More than 100,000 people in South Florida have been tested for the new coronavirus so far, with the percentage of infections exceeding the statewide average, state data released Saturday shows.
In comparison to Fort Lauderdale, the lines for walk-up testing were shorter Saturday at Mitchell Moore Park, located at 901 N.W. 10th St. in Pompano Beach.
Those being tested were told they would get a phone call with their test results within three to five days.
No doctor referral was needed at the walk-up testing sites. However those tested were supposed to have symptoms of the virus or exposure to someone who was infected. Appointments could be made by calling (954) 412-7300.