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Testing site floods shopping center with people, parking issues

Posted at 1:47 AM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 06:35:23-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — As more COVID-19 testing sites open across Southwest Florida to meet the demand, some of them are causing problems for local businesses.

We found one testing site that is filling a Cape Coral shopping center with COVID-19 patients every morning.

Around 6:00 a.m. people start lining up to wait outside the "Center for COVID Control" in the Towers at Santa Barbara shopping center until the testing site opens at 8:30 a.m.

But many of them bring their cars, and there simply aren’t enough parking spaces, so it ends up creating all sorts of problems.

The manager at Anytime Fitness took a video of the line outside her business Tuesday.

“We’ve been out here all morning trying to direct people to park on the street," said manager Ashley Sparks.

Sparks said January is the busiest time of year for her company, but the testing site is filling up the lot.

"Tthere was about five people in the gym, and my entire parking lot was full, and none of the other businesses were really open yet, so that’s obviously an issue when on a Friday at a gym, a 24-hour gym, I don’t have a parking space," said Sparks.

We got the owner of the testing site on the phone. Al Cook said he’s trying to find a solution.

"I reached out to the Cape Coral Police Department, however, because it’s not an issue with obstructing traffic on a major road, they won’t get involved," said Cook.

But Sparks said it’s not just the parking that’s an issue. It’s the people, possibly COVID-positive, standing outside her business and keeping customers away.

“They’ll hang out outside my front door, sit there, start coughing with no mask on if you’re sick. No mask on, hacking everywhere," said Sparks.

Sparks said she doesn’t see this situation getting any better without the testing site moving out entirely.

“If this can’t get resolved, they need to go find a place that’s fitted for a COVID testing center," said Sparks.

We asked Cook directly if he would be willing to move out and find another location.

“I empathize with them. I don’t want to harm their businesses in any way, I’m trying to do everything I can, and I will do whatever I can. If that means getting out of the lease, I’ll just get out of the lease," said Cook.

Cook said he never expected this many people to be coming to his testing site, and he’s already in talks with the landlord to possibly end his lease.