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Frustrations growing over the availability of COVID-19 testing in Lee County

Posted at 11:11 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 06:11:51-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — We’re hearing a tale of two testing sites.

The Lee County Health Department says tests are readily available for people who need them, but we talked to people waiting in line for hours Monday who say something needs to be done to make tests easier to get.

The lines snaked around the CenturyLink Stadium, leaving people once again waiting in their cars for hours. The company that runs it, Nomi Health, shows appointments are booked up through Wednesday.

But the official line from FDOH Lee is "Testing is readily available countywide at local pharmacies, private physician offices, laboratories and public testing sites. At-home testing kits are available for purchase online and in retail pharmacies."

So after hearing that response, we came to the exit of the CenturyLink testing site to hear how long people had to wait, and to learn if people would like to see anything change to make tests more available.

"We waited in line for four hours today," said Adiel Eshkenazi.

Eshkenazi said he needed a COVID test because he’s flying back to Europe, but his car wasn’t able to handle the wait.

"It was sitting there for so long the car broke down. They were nice enough to actually come out and give us the tests," said Eshkenazi.

Eshkenazi said he tried other options before coming to CenturyLink, but had no luck.

"The CVS’s, the Walgreens, they’re pretty much all booked up," said Eshkenazi.

The demand for tests is skyrocketing because COVID-19 infections are too. Lee Health reported a jump of 61 cases over the weekend, and the Emergency Department Medical Director, Dr. Timothy Dougherty, said the majority of patients didn’t know they had COVID beforehand.

"Most of them have not been tested themselves. They may have been exposed to someone that was tested, but they themselves have not been tested. When we had the delta variant, a lot of them came in with a test on their phone from Curative or somewhere else," said Dr. Dougherty.

In its statement, FDOH Lee said "FDOH Lee is prepared to scale up testing as necessary to meet the demand.”

But Eshkenazi said the demand is already here, and that scale up is desperately needed.

“You definitely need more options and more testing sites like this. It’s a waste of a day. This is my last day of vacation, and this is how I spent it. In line, waiting to be tested," said Eshkenazi.

We asked FDOH Lee if it could provide an on-camera interview, but it declined. We also reached out to Nomi Health, but the company did not respond to our request for comment.