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Testing, hospitalizations up in SWFL as COVID cases set record highs

Wait times for COVID tests can reach three hours or more
Posted at 7:33 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 19:33:29-05

NAPLES, Fla. — As the Centers for Disease Control reports record numbers of COVID cases in Florida, more and more people are in need of tests.

Local testing centers have seen an influx of people in recent days. FOX4 visited a walk-in testing clinic in Naples to see just how long of a wait people are experiencing.

We also spoke to officials at the two largest hospital systems in Southwest Florida — Lee Health and NCH — and both said they’re seeing an increase in COVID hospitalizations.

Dr. Rob McGann, CEO of Naples Urgent Care, said his clinic is seeing nearly double its normal amount of patients. Most of them, he said, are looking for COVID tests.

“Peak season we’d be seeing four to five patients per hour. Recently we’ve been seeing eight to twelve an hour,” McGann said. “Now, they’re more simple encounters, so it’s not like spending 15 minutes with a patient. So, are we able to keep up with it? I would say just barely.”

According to the CDC’s most recent numbers, COVID cases are up 36 percent in Collier County, up 24 percent in Lee County, and up 22 percent in Charlotte County.

Local hospitals are seeing an up-tick in the number of COVID patients.

NCH Healthcare in Naples has had an average of 17 COVID patients the past week, up from an average of 11 the previous week. Lee Health had 51 COVID patients on Monday, up from 35 two weeks ago.

Naples Urgent Care is a walk-in clinic, so people don’t have to make appointments. However, that can mean a long wait. McGann said some patients can wait up to three hours for a COVID test.

“COVID test per day, (we’re doing) anywhere from 30 to 50,” the Naples Urgent Care CEO said. “One of our medical providers predicts we could be seeing 80 to 100 patients per day. That’s possible.”

Although lines can be long, medical experts say it’s important to get tested if you’re experiencing systems. The Florida Department of Health website has a list of testing sites throughout Southwest Florida.