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UF Health Jacksonville Begins Testing For Seniors, Low-Income Areas

three people sitting at a table, one of them being the patient and two others who are helping administer the test. Everyone has equipment on, including a mask for the patient. The two testers are wearing full protective equipment from head to toe
Via UF Health Jacksonville
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UF Health Jacksonville began their testing on Wednesday at the Emmett Reed Community Center

University of Florida Health Jacksonville hospital received COVID-19 testing kits from the state government, and now they’re hoping to test seniors and low-income individuals with those kits. 

On Wednesday, UF Health Jacksonville held its first day of testing at the Emmett Reed Community Center. The site tested 78 people, according to Ann-Marie Knight, the VP of Community Engagement for UF Health Jacksonville.

“The focus is our seniors in the community and our patients for the total care clinic,” Knight said. “However, if we have the capacity to test you today, we will, but we want to make sure that every senior has the opportunity.” 

People that come to the testing location will go into separate lines depending on their qualifications. If someone is over the age of 65 or they are patients of the UF Health Total Care Clinic and they’re exhibiting symptoms, they’ll have scheduled an appointment and be tested. 

Walk-ups who aren’t patients of the clinic but are over the age of 65 and exhibiting symptoms will also be prioritized.

For people who aren’t exhibiting symptoms or are not part of the clinic and under the age of 65, they will still have the opportunity to be tested, but will be in a queue.  

Related: Local, State And National Coronavirus Coverage

Those who don’t meet the symptom criteria will instead take a test as part of a research study that uses a University of Florida-made kit that is not currently FDA-approved. 

The purpose of the study is to identify factors associated with people who are not exhibiting symptoms, which the University says can help better understand how to lessen the impact of the outbreak and determine when officials might be able to lift restrictions. 

“We want to be very specific to address the most vulnerable first,” Knight said. “And, of course we all have the worry well. The person that may have a cough who says ‘darn, could this be it?’ If we have the capacity to screen them, we want to be able to say yes.”

It will also be an opportunity to study how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting African Americans across the nation. 

“To see what are the trends in the African American community that may be influencers, why are some communities being impacted more than others,” Knight said. “So yes, the study is an opportunity to see if we can get on the forefront of that.”

Knight said she thinks the sites will be able to test around 150 people per day. People can expect their results back in 72 hours.  

All of the sites will not be drive-thru, so people can visit them on foot. 

UF Health Jacksonville is working with the Jacksonville Housing Authority to identify areas in need, and they are planning to have testing days at the Emmett Reed Community Center, Brentwood Lakes, Hogan Creek, Centennial Towers, and Twin Towers if supplies last that long. 

The sites will be open Friday, April 10 at the Emmett Reed Community Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one hour break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. 

Beginning April 15, the site will be open from Wednesday to Friday at different community centers with similar hours. 

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.

Former WJCT News reporter