Health department offers virus testing for the home-bound


INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Healthcare workers are now bringing tests to the homebound meeting coronavirus screening criteria, including older residents and those will illness.

Wednesday, Florida Department of Health workers, wearing masks and gloves, began administering tests to those confined at home, health department spokesperson Stacy Brock said. The community-based testing was formed through a partnership between the health department and the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast.

“This testing will be able to provide services to our most vulnerable population within Indian River County,” health department Officer Miranda Hawker said. “I’m grateful to the VNA for their assistance for partnering with us to make that program possible.”

Hawker spoke about the new program in a joint news conference Friday at the Indian River County Emergency Operations Center.

The homebound who have symptoms including fevers, coughs, shortness of breath and diarrhea should contact the health department. Out of the nearly 130,000 adults who live in Indian River County, more than 47,000 are older residents, officials said.

Anyone who needs community-based testing should call 772-794-7411.

With Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phase one plan – reopening restaurants and retail stores at 25 percent capacity – taking effect Monday, Hawker reminded residents to keep practicing the recommended guidelines from experts. Hawker said residents should wear face masks when in public settings where it’s hard to practice social distancing.

“It’s still good to maintain those social distancing practices. If you’re an older person or person with an underlying health condition, we want to make sure you’re staying home as much as you can except for essential trips,” Hawker said. “It’s important we still keep our county healthy so those most at risk for severe consequences from COVID-19 will stay healthy as a result.”

As of Friday, Indian River County had a total 91 positive coronavirus cases, including eight deaths. The deaths claimed the lives of six white individuals and two African-Americans, Hawker said.

Recent findings show blacks in the United States may be disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Hawker said all cases are either self-isolating at home or in the hospital. Cory Richter, the former deputy fire chief assisting with the county’s virus response, said five people are currently hospitalized, a decrease by one from last week’s numbers.

Hawker said the health department continues to provide assistance to long-term care facilities regarding infection control and environmental cleaning. The health department is helping the care centers with testing and contact tracing investigations.

Three facilities in Indian River County – HarborChase Vero Beach, Palm Garden of Vero Beach, and Sonata of Vero Beach, reported coronavirus cases.

HarborChase reported at least seven coronavirus cases, including five deaths among residents, health officers said. Those cases include one positive resident, five positive residents transferred to hospitals and one positive staff member, Hawker said.

Palm Garden and Sonata each reported one case involving a resident, Hawker said.

Richter said the Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital hotline has received 5,568 total calls. The number for the hospital hotline, open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is 772-226-4846.

Richter said Cleveland Clinic has done 2,101 total tests, with 1,964 testing negative, 71 pending and 66 positive. Sebastian River Medical Center has done 80 total tests, with 71 testing negative, one pending and eight positive.

Richter said hospitals continue to remain fully prepared to treat coronavirus patients.

County facilities

Friday morning, officials reopened all public tennis and pickleball courts operated by the county, Vero Beach and Sebastian. Officials said only solo play will be allowed.

Officials reminded players to practice social distancing while playing. The Sandridge Golf Club also reopened Friday.

Also on Friday, the Indian River County main library and north county library reopened strictly for book holds and pickups. Those who want more details can visit the county library website.

County officials reopened the guarded beach access points Tuesday.


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