By Ted Scouten

HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) – As the number of COVID-19 cases in the county continues to rise, Broward leaders are stressing the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and getting tested.

Tuesday morning it was announced that a temporary testing site would be opened at the Koinonia Worship Center and Village, at 4900 W Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

“I seen the news on channel 4 that it popped up, they were doing it now, no line, so I was going and I picked up my neighbor and said, ‘Let’s go,’” explained Louis Martir.

Martir and his neighbor, Ernestine Williams, got over there right away.

The site is offering free walk-up testing on both Wednesday, July 22, and Thursday, July 23 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m., with special seniors only hours from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day. No appointments are needed to be tested.

State Rep. Shevrin Jones said the site is possible through a partnership with the emergency management firm CDR Maguire and GENETWORx Lab.

He said local leaders have had to step up because of failed direction at the top.

“As you know we have been the epicenter of this health care crisis with a leadership within this state that has put it on the backs of mayors and local elected officials, thank God we have good ones here in South Florida. But I continue to ask the question of who is leading the state of Florida out of this pandemic, who is leading this country out of this pandemic that we are in right now. Both are leaders, the president and our governor are announcing a different tune of what needs to happen when it comes to protecting the lives of 21 million people here in the state of Florida,” said Jones.

Jones pointed out that more than 5,000 Floridians have lost their lives.

He added that he and his family know first hand just how bad the virus can be.

“You do not want to go through the experience of COVID-19. Eighteen days of my life that I went through COVID, there were five of those days that I did not think I would wake up, in the middle of the night, because it was that bad,” he said.

The idea behind the pop up site is to make testing widely available to everyone so they know their status and can stop the spread.

“While the state has failed to lead throughout this crisis, there is one thing that is for sure, we need to give people in the community access and adequate testing options if we have any hope of getting this situation under control,” he said.

Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said that testing is an important part of the process of beating the virus.

“Testing and results coming back in a timely basis is very important. And then we get into contact tracing and all the other things we need to do,” he said.

Holness said Tuesday on his weekly call with Broward’s mayors they were informed by a health department official that 90% of the county’s ICU beds were filled.

“It means that we are in a place where we must do more to stop the spread of this virus,” he said.

Holness said 60 to 80% of those who are testing positive now are saying they got it from someone in their family.

“So even within your family, you must take the necessary precautions to not spread this virus. Social distancing, wearing facial coverings, and doing all that the CDC has asked,” he said.

That’s exactly why Samantha Pinnock wanted to find out her status.

“I’m a flight attendant. It’s important for me to know I don’t have it as well as I’m not bringing it home to my family,” she said.

Holness said while hospitals are running short on redmesivir because it is tight supply, they have found convalescent plasma to be an effective treatment.

“So those who have already had the virus and have recovered fully can donate blood so that we can have that plasma to treat others. Please contact oneblood.org to make a donation to help your fellow citizens recover from this virus,” he said.

The mayor said we need to beat this virus quickly so we can get to where we can continue to grow the economy and get people back to work, but that can’t be done if we don’t beat the virus.

“Now, in terms of small business assistance, we’re working with our cities to formulate plans to ensure that the CARES money reaches the people who are neediest. That’s our small business people who never got any of the CARES funds before. It is those who are renting and landlords who haven’t gotten any rent payment for a while,” he said.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said they’re getting tougher on enforcement of the rules. So far 40 businesses in Broward Have been shut down for not following the rules.

“We’ve taken so much of a more aggressive tone that we are citing people. We are dealing with shutting down businesses, we will keep that tone. This is a public safety issue,” he said.

Tony said to get the spread under control the entire community will have to take ownership, take responsibility, and make sure that they do the things that can minimize the spread of this virus.

Ted Scouten

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