Broward County opens more COVID testing sites, plus could universities require student vaccinations?

As the record number of COVID hospitalizations in Florida keep trending upward, new testing sites are opening, plus there are other considerations on the table.
As the record number of COVID hospitalizations in Florida keep trending upward, new testing sites are opening, plus there are other considerations on the table.

SUNRISE, Fla. – Markham Park in Sunrise had a line of cars on its first day Wednesday. The new COVID-19 testing site was opened by Broward County to ease some of the high demand at other, more crowded testing locations.

On Wednesday, Broward County announced another drive-through testing location, C.B. Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Some people told Local 10 News that they waited over an hour to get a test at Markham Park. Jorge Vasquez came prepared. “I got my water, I got cookies.”

Vasquez said he is vaccinated, but he wanted to make sure that he didn’t have the virus.

Alejandro Osuna was in line at Markham Park. He was there with his family, he said, because his kids were showing symptoms of COVID-19 even though they had all been vaccinated.

Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said that even though COVID data in Broward is not released daily as it was in the beginning of the pandemic, but only weekly, he said that cases are doubling each week. He is extremely concerned for county’s children who are now showing up more in emergency rooms with symptoms of COVID. “Please protect the children of Broward County and get vaccinated,” Geller urged.

Some people said they waited for over an hour to get tested at a new site in Broward County, but it was worth the wait.
Some people said they waited for over an hour to get tested at a new site in Broward County, but it was worth the wait.

Volunteers in South Florida have also begun to take part in a new booster shot trial that involves a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Gary Bitner told Local 10 News that he received his third shot just a few days ago.

“I think anyone who’s been vaccinated, who follows the science, and anyone who follows the news, has to be concerned,” Bitner said.

This on the heels of a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida, with many of those cases involving unvaccinated people.

As the average age is skewing younger, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Wednesday turned her attention to the county’s college aged residents as officials work to figure out how vaccination levels in that population can get a boost.

“Just a few minutes ago, we completed a very productive conversation about how we can work together in the coming weeks and months,” Cava said during a virtual Zoom meeting with heads of universities from the area.

The discussion, at one point, turned to the potential for requiring vaccinations for all university students in South Florida. The head of the University of Miami chimed in and said he would be open to the idea if the state would allow it.

“We identified a number of areas where we should be able to cooperate, including working together to set up vaccination pop-up sites on college campus, and specific messaging,” Cava said.

But as hospitalizations rise, especially among young people, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted the state’s COVID mortality rate, which, so far is lower than last year, he said.

“We have a 90 percent reduction plus in mortality in long-term care facilities.”

For Bitner, who is one of thousands to take part in Pfizer’s booster trial, he wishes more people would follow the science.

“It’s just sad,” he said.

For information on where COVID-19 vaccines and testing are available across South Florida, click here.


About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.