Why This State With Skyrocketing COVID Numbers Is Stopping Testing
This state will lose days of coronavirus testing data for this unavoidable reason.
Testing in America has been a fraught situation for the bulk of the coronavirus pandemic: Test results taking two weeks to come back, false negatives, and the limited availability of testing are just some of the complications we've seen over the past few months. Now, Mother Nature is determined to impede testing as well. As Tropical Storm Isaias approaches Florida, the state with the second-highest number of cases is pausing COVID testing for several days, according to a state press release.
Per the press release, after all state-supported testing sites close on July 30, they will not reopen until it is safe to do so, which will most likely be the morning of Aug. 5. The testing sites have freestanding structures including tents and various equipment, which won't survive strong storm winds. Testing sites will reopen on a rolling basis as the storm passes through regions of the state, according to the press release.
The storm has already hit Puerto Rico, generating landslides, widespread flooding, and power outages. Shutting down testing centers is just one of many precautions Floridians are taking in anticipation of the storm, which should reach Florida over the weekend.
If evacuation is necessary, social distancing will be a challenge. "Look, if we have a major hurricane here, then we're going to have to evacuate a number of people," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez told CNN. "And then we're going to have to … try to keep them separated as much as possible."
Giménez also voiced his concerns about the gap in testing until the storm passes. "But the greater danger, the immediate danger has to be taken care of first, and that's getting our people out of harm's way," he added.
Although the press release says testing will remain available at county health departments, some counties have shuttered their testing sites as well. Miami-Dade County, which has the third-highest number of cases of any county in the U.S., announced they will be closing all testing sites from Friday "until further notice."
Additionally, Palm Beach County, which has the third-highest number of cases in Florida, is closing testing sites through the weekend. Depending on the damage, they may reopen Monday. As the storm inches closer, more counties may move to shut down their testing for the weekend, creating a significant gap in testing data. And for more states facing trouble amid the pandemic, Dr. Fauci Is Most Worried About These 4 States.