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North Collier Fire Rescue District to offer free COVID-19 antibody testing

Posted at 6:52 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 18:52:54-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District will soon begin to offer free COVID-19 antibody testing.

The fire district says it's already been testing its crew for COVID-19 and antibodies in-house, but now they want to offer the antibody testing to the public.

"There was obviously a need, we have the medical expertise, we have trained firefighter-paramedics, we have a great team of medical doctors," said Assist. Chief of EMS and Training, Jorge Aguilera.

The goal is to help the NCH Community Blood Center get more convalescent plasma donations.

"Right now, we've been waiting almost a week on some patients, and there is no plasma available for them, so we're looking to the community and this project to get people to donate," said Dr. Richard Juda with NCH.

To help meet the need, North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District will administer 500 free antibody tests.

The antibody test is simple — just a prick on the finger, and within 10 minutes, you'll have your results.

"That is a critical part of us being involved in this process, is to find those that have the antibody and encourage them to donate," said Assist. Chief Aguilera.

Some of the requirements include having been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and having been symptom-free for at least 14 days.

During a press conference Thursday, North Collier Fire Rescue District announced it partnered with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, The Collier County Republican Men's Club, and other community organizations to raise the funding for the antibody tests.

"This was important for us, we've had several of our own in-house become sick, we're very grateful they've recovered," said Assist. Chief Aguilera.

The antibody testing will take place on Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m.

"Those people that are out there that know their blood type and if it's AB, we really want to see them come because that's really the universal donor for plasma," said Dr. Jeff Panozzo with NCH.

Pre-registration is required to get the free antibody testing. Click here to register.