HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – As early as 1 a.m. Thursday, there was a two-hour wait to get tested for COVID-19 at the South Dade Government Center, and more long lines were seen at Tropical Park as Miami-Dade residents take advantage of 24-hour testing sites ahead of Christmas.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced they will be expanding hours and opening additional sites as the county tests tens of thousands of people every day — and those numbers are only expected to go up as the omicron variant drives up infections.
Deloris Macksoud said it took her about an hour and a half to get a test at Tropical Park in Southwest Miami-Dade. She had her Christmas gifts in the backseat and said it’s the last thing to check off her list to make sure she is COVID-free before seeing family.
“It’s terrible, but a lot of people are asking since we are going to see family, and it’s necessary — we have to be safe for others,” she said.
According to the Florida Department of Health, there are 60 coronavirus testing sites in Broward County, 80 in Miami-Dade County. Aside from the county testing sites, private urgent care centers are also providing tests. Some are by-appointment-only, some have shortages of supplies, and some are missing staff.
Jessie Vieira was at Health Plus Urgent Care in Davie where there were 50 patients scheduled for the day. Dr. Mangit Singh Gulati was working at Health Plus Urgent Care said they were seeing four patients per hour.
“I came yesterday and they told me they had an appointment and told me to come back today,” Vieira said, adding the process took about 30 minutes.
A steady stream of cars snaked around park sites in Broward County. The gates opened around 8 a.m. at Markham Park in Sunrise, where there has been a steady stream of cars ever since. That site was only administering PCR tests, which means people who got swabbed will not have the results before Christmas, but that’s not a deterrent for folks nervous about the outcome.
“We went to a party, so that was our first mishap before seeing our family,” said Issa Marto.
The demand for testing was just as high at Mills Pond Park in Fort Lauderdale and at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines. Vieira said he was at C.B. Smith Park on Wednesday and he said there were more than 60 drivers waiting in line.
“I had a friend who waited three hours the other day,” Vieira said.
There are, of course, other testing options besides the large drive-up sites. Walk-up sites, pharmacies and urgent care locations often have shorter lines, though many are already fully booked with appointments.
Like in Miami-Dade, Broward Mayor Michael Udine said his county is working to add additional testing sites “as soon as possible.”
For information on where you can get a COVID-19 test or vaccine in South Florida, click here.