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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

As More People In South Florida Get Tested, Frustrations Grow

Lines for testing at sites in South Florida remain long.
Lines for testing at sites in South Florida remain long.

The state of Florida has tested more than 2.8 million people for COVID-19 so far. That number measures people, but it doesn't account for the frustration felt by many of those individuals. Whether it's finding a spot to get tested, waiting in line for hours, or waiting roughly a week to get testing results. 

WLRN is here for you, even when life is unpredictable. Local journalists are working hard to keep you informed on the latest developments across South Florida. Please support this vital work. Become a WLRN member today. Thank you. On a recent, hot Sunday afternoon, Laura Simon of Miami Gardens walked up behind a long line of people near the Miami Beach Convention Center.

"I have to [wait in line] because I have to get tested," she said.  Her symptoms included body aches, a cough and a fever for one night.

Behind, a line of cars stretched all the way down 17th Street."Even if it was longer, like the walk line, I would still do it because it would be way shorter than the car line," she said.

Alex Rubinsteyn, though, decided to try a drive-up test after his fever kept getting worse recently.

"My temperature was 99.9, and then I took it again and it was 100.2, and then I took it again, it was 100.4," he said. "And I was just watching this fever building."

Rubinsteyn found the website to sign up for a slot but it turns out they were all booked. Then he figured out that by refreshing the site one might open up, except it took a really long time.

"On the sixth hour, I finally got a slot, but it's for the next day," he said. The next morning he drove to Marlins Park and found a really long line.

"It just wraps around. It's like Seventh Avenue to like Sixth Street to like 12th Avenue and it goes in and seems to spiral into the parking lots," Rubinsteyn said. "So it's a very intimidatingly long line. And I waited for an hour and a half and I got maybe halfway through."

By this point he no longer had a fever and decided to leave. Rubinsteyn then ordered a home test and did the nose swab himself. It came back negative after some days, but because it all took so long, he never did find out if he had had COVID-19.

"If you swab and then you get the results back in seven days, you know, that's not ideal," said Gov. Ron DeSantis, bringing up that problem at a press conference last week. "Particularly if you have symptoms, I mean, people need to know whether they should isolate or not."

The state doesn't have a solution for this, he says, because private labs across the whole country are backed up.

Dr. Randy Katz, meanwhile, has a plea for people to stop turning to emergency departments as an alternative. Katz is the medical director of emergency medicine at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.

"Sometimes the demands outweighs our capacity, and we have to make decisions on who we can test and who we can't test," Katz said. "And clearly, we're going to test the sickest patients, the ones that tested most."

He says he understands how hard it is to get tested these days, but the emergency department is under a lot of strain. Keep in mind, Katz added, that coming to the ER will be pretty expensive, even with health insurance.

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