VERO BEACH — Local residents who feel they have a reason to be tested for COVID-19 may qualify for a spot at Cleveland Clinic Indian River’s new drive through testing facility set to open Friday afternoon.
Patients cannot show up unannounced, Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Peter said at a press conference outside the Indian River County Administration Building on Friday. The move is an effort to speed up the county’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, which continues to increase across several Florida counties.
Dr. David Peter, chief medical officer for Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, updates the public on plans for drive-thru testing in Indian River County for #coronavirus. #VeroNews pic.twitter.com/GF7FB2614B
— Nicholas Samuel (@JournalistNickS) March 20, 2020
“If the patient meets the criteria, they will be given an appointment for drive-through testing,” Dr. Peter said.
Anyone hoping to get tested must call the Nurse Triage Line at 772-226-4846 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Peter said. Those who call must answer questions to see if they meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for testing.
The drive-through center is set up in the parking lot of the hospital at 1000 36th St., Vero Beach. Test results are currently taking three to five days to come back from the lab.
So far, 45 Indian River County residents have been tested as of noon Friday, with 30 of those tests still pending. As of noon Friday, two positive cases had been announced.
Miranda Hawker, Florida Department of Health Officer, said residents should continue to listen to recommendations from health professionals. Hawker said there is currently no vaccine or treatment for coronavirus.
“Everyone has a responsibility in helping to prevent the spread of this virus,” Hawker said. “We want people to limit their social interaction. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Stay home if you’re sick.”
Hawker could not immediately speak on the amount of people who have recovered from coronavirus in the county or statewide. The health officer said virus symptoms can appear between two to 14 days after exposure.
Some symptoms include fevers, coughs and shortness of breath, she said.
Hawker said people who are 65 years or older or already have serious heath issues are more at risk of having critical complications from the illness. Some of those include people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, those who are immune-compromised, and individuals with heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
Health officials are not sure how long the coronavirus pandemic will last. Hawker said health department officials were providing outreach to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
People with general questions about COVID-19 not related to testing can call the county’s Emergency Operations Hotline at (772)226-4000.
*Writer Nick Samuel contributed to this report
Photos by Kaila Jones
This story will be updated.