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5 additional COVID-19 testing sites to open in Duval County

The Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously to approve Mayor Lenny's Curry emergency legislation Tuesday night.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The City of Jacksonville will open three additional COVID-19 testing sites and the Duval County Department of Health will add two more sites to address the increase in free testing demand across the region.

As the coronavirus surges on the First Coast, it's become increasingly difficult for those exposed or ill to find and schedule a free rapid test.

On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously to approve Mayor Lenny Curry's emergency legislation, which will use $4 million of federal relief funds to combat the local surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Agape Family Health and Telescope Health, which have previously managed testing sites for the City of Jacksonville, will operate the facilities. 

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"As we continue to respond to COVID-19 in Jacksonville, it is important that citizens throughout our community have access to testing,” said City Council President Sam Newby via press release. “I am grateful to Mayor Curry and his administration for their leadership in making this testing available and accessible to everyone in Jacksonville."

The new sites include:

  • Lane Wiley Senior Center located at 6710 Wiley Road, 32210 (testing and vaccines)
  • Clanzel T. Brown Community Center located at 4545 Moncrief Road, 32209 (testing and vaccines)
  • Beaches Location (former Kmart shopping center) located at 540 Atlantic Boulevard, 32266 (testing only)

The drive-thru testing site at the beaches is already being operated by Telescope Health. However, right not, the rapid testing is not free.

Plans for two more locations to be operated by the Department of Health will be located at the following Community Centers:

  • Emmett Reed Community Center located at 1093 W. 6th Street, 32209
  • Cuba Hunter Community Center located at 4380 Bedford Road, 32207

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“Access to testing is an important part of our continued COVID-19 response efforts. Accurate and timely testing empowers citizens to make better decisions to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors...,” said Curry.

During the city council meeting, district 1 city councilmember Joyce Morgan asked administration representatives why the Regency Sqaure Mall testing site in Arlington wasn’t being reopened.

“We’re trying to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible. I can quickly turn around contracts to put sites at city-owned property. I can’t do that if I’m working with a private landowner," an administration representative explained. "It’s efficiency and it’s the fact that we have to pay rent, and I’d rather spend taxpayer dollars on testing and vaccines for people.“

They also said the particular sites were chosen because they had a large enough indoor space, and a number of the locations will also have covered breezeways in the event lines form outside.

Last week, District 9 City councilmember Garrett Dennis filed similar emergency legislation to expand testing, which was also on the agenda and up for a vote Tuesday night.

However, he did not move forward with his proposal.

“I see people hurting –  people in my own family, people that I work with. People are hurting – deaths every single day because of this," Dennis said. "I wasn’t gonna get into a back and forth battle with the administration… and so, tonight, the citizens of Jacksonville – they won.“ 

The administration says four out of five sites are expected to operational with free COVID-19 testing by next Monday, Aug. 16. The Cuba Hunter Community Center site is expected to open the following Monday, Aug. 23.

Free COVID-19 vaccines will also be available at the all the new sites. The drive-thru testing site already in place at the beaches will only offer testing.

For the last few weeks, the Duval County Health Department's COVID-19 testing site downtown has been overwhelmed with people needing tests, with lines hundreds of people long

At local pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, which had dozens of daily COVID-19 testing appointments available months back, are either booking multiple days in advance or not at all.