By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Testing has been emphasized by health officials as the key to reopening.

Since COVID-19 testing opened to the general public, we have seen the number of drive-thru and walk-up testing sites increase and, simultaneously, seen lines gradually go down.

At the state-run Hard Rock testing site, for example, there was hardly any wait Tuesday afternoon.

That’s a much different picture thank about three weeks ago, with lines of cars reaching all the way down the street.

Spokesman for the site, Mike Jachles, says the number of people coming out to get tested ebbs and flows, seeing spikes sometimes as well as slower days. He says it’s likely the busiest site in the state, having done 22,000 tests since opening.

“We’ve seen numbers as high as 770 [people] late last week. Right now, we are at 321 as of 1:00 in the afternoon, which is a relatively light day,” he explains.

By the end of the day Tuesday, they had done 469 tests.

Jachles says the less lengthy lines doesn’t necessarily mean less people are getting tested. He says there are more sites available now, which helps with the congestion. The process has also become more efficient than where they were a month ago.

“When it first started, the PPE and testing kits were in limited supply,” says Jachles. “Now, we have more of a guaranteed supply. Now, we are able to process 750 tests. That’s our capacity per day.”

In a press conference Tuesday from Sarasota, Governor Ron DeSantis says testing is far more accessible than a month ago.

“What we are seeing throughout the state, is these test sites tend to have more capacity than there is demand,” he says.

We crunched some numbers. Going back to the first week of April, there was an increase of 116% in tests given from March 31 to April 7.

By comparison, this past week, from April 28 to May 5, the total number of tests went up by only 21%.

Antibody testing is now also available, with a new site opening in Bal Harbour. It’s located next to the Bal Harbour Shops parking garage 96th Street entrance.

“We do like to provide priority access to first responders and seniors. We are reserving more spots for them than anyone else,” says Vice President of Banyan Medical System, Michel Koopman. “But anyone, really, could benefit from knowing if the screening allows them to go back to work, or keeping their loved ones safe by knowing if they are sick or have been exposed.”

They can test up to 600 people a day there. The antibody test shows if you built up antibodies to COVID-19, even if you never knew you had it.

“We will do a finger prick and take two drops of blood and wait for that to set, and we will call you with your results the same day,” explains nurse Deborah Storlie, who helps conduct testing.

Each test result helps officials to understand the impacts of COVID-19 in Florida. That’s why Jachles encourages people to come out if they can. When the lines are short, especially on the weekends, he says people are in and out in about 10 minutes

“Some of the issues brought to our attention is people think there’s a charge to be tested here or you need an appointment,” he says. “At the Hard Rock testing site, that is not the case in either way.”  .

Testing there is available to anyone over the age of 18, whether they show symptoms or not. People have to have photo identification and arrive in a car.

For a list of other testing sites, click here.

To set up an appointment for antibody testing, click here.

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Karli Barnett

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