Lee Health, NCH opening drive-up collection sites for COVID-19 testing

Posted at 8:17 AM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 10:48:35-04

FORT MYERS, Fla -- Beginning Monday, Lee Health and NCH will be offering mobile collection sites for those needing to get tested for COVID-19.

Monday morning the sites and hours of operation will be announced. So far, Lee Health tells Fox 4 at least one is scheduled to open at Lee Convenient Care’s Page Field office.

Mobile collection sites are something President Trump talked about on Friday when he declared a national state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sites will help expand testing capabilities. Up until now, testing has been one of the major challenges in responding to the outbreak.

To have any specimens collected at the drive-thru locations, patients must meet the criteria and have their test ordered by their physician first.

Appointments will be required at Lee Health collection sites. NCH is not requiring appointments.

Patients will be able to simply drive up and have samples collected by medical professionals dressed in protective gear. Samples will then be sent to a lab who will send the results to the patient's provider.

In a news conference Sunday, Governor Ron DeSantis explained how he feels drive-up testing can help when he announced the sites in Broward County that the Florida National Guard is helping operate.

“This is going to be a convenient way for a limited subset of the population to be tested,” he said.

“The folks who are elderly, that have symptoms, that have an underlying medical condition, we want to have the easiest way possible for them to test and then if need be to get treatment or to self-isolate and I think this will be something that will be beneficial,” he added.

However, the governor did express some apprehension about mobile collections. He referenced other states like Colorado who have had issues with drive-up testing and have had to shut them down. Some sites there experienced three-hour waits and some patients had to be turned away.

However, DeSantis said he's confident Florida will be able to do it in a way that will make an impact.