Monroe County’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force has been working together over the last few weeks to review the testing capabilities, prioritize resources, and determine the testing needs of the county. The task force consists of members from Monroe County’s hospitals, private practices, nonprofit health care organizations, and government sectors. Widespread testing “will help better track the spread and prevalence of COVID-19 in Monroe County and identify potential outbreaks in advance and effectively respond,” said Alison Kerr, spokesperson for the Monroe County Department of Health.
Bob Eadie, Health Officer and Administrator for the Monroe County DOH says, “With increased testing capabilities in Monroe County, support functions, especially contact tracers, are critical. Contact tracing is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19 and the department has ramped up efforts for contact tracing to monitor contacts of infected people and ensure the effective isolation of contacts.”
Kerr, says Monroe’s epidemiologists have been busy conducting in-depth contact tracing for all confirmed cases in Monroe County since the first case was confirmed on March 20th. For each new case contact tracers formulate a timeline showing when a patient first became ill and documenting all communications and information gathered from persons who were in close contact with the infected patient (within the period of time that the patient could have become infected or infected others.) “Daily calls are made to all patients who have tested positive and their close contacts,” said Kerr.
The department is working with Medical Reserve Corps, Keys Health Ready Coalition, the Incident Management Team, and the Agency for Health Care Administration to ensure that enough staff is available to meet the local contact tracing needs. “DOH-Monroe is also working with partners to bring whole-community testing to Monroe County in the near future,” Kerr said in a press release.
ABOUT VIRAL AND ANTIBODY TESTING:
There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests – viral tests and antibody tests.
- Viral tests (Polymerase Chain Reaction – PCR tests) tell you if you have a current infection. May take between two and seven days to get results. Testing is done through the nose or throat.
- Antibody tests (serologic tests) tell you if you had a previous infection. This rapid test can provide results within 10 minutes in some cases. This test may not be able to show current infection. Testing is done via finger prick or blood draw. A viral test may still be needed to ensure you are not infectious. It is unknown at this time if having antibodies to COVID-19 can protect someone from infection again, or how long the protection may last.
WHERE TO GET TESTED (as of May 14, 2020):
- CHI (Community Health of South FL) Marathon Health Center is conducting free viral and antibody testing. Viral testing is offered every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm by appointment. CHI conducted two events—drive through testing event in Marathon on March 28 and walk-up testing event in Key West, Bahama Village on May 11. For information on future testing events call CHI at (305) 216-2107 or email KeysCovid19@chisouthfl.org.
- Rural Health Network offers free viral and antibody testing in Key West by appointment. RHN conducted a screening and testing event in Key West, Bahama Village on May 7. More testing events are planned. Call (305) 517-6613.
- Good Health Clinic provides free rapid response serology antibody tests to patients. Through a partnership with Dr. Stan Zuba, testing is also conducted in the Upper Keys. Call (305) 853-1788 (Tavernier), (305) 853-1789 (Marathon) or email email@example.com
- Walgreens Key West: Commercial labs, such as Quest and LabCorp, can conduct viral and antibody (rapid) tests. LabCorp currently conducts testing at Walgreens in Key West with a prescription.
- Advanced Urgent Care can conduct both viral and antibody tests and can test those with minimal to no symptoms. They have locations in Key West, Marathon, and Key Largo. They have conducted over 400
COVID-19 tests in Monroe County since May 13. Patients can pre-register for testing and download the Antibody Screening form at www.urgentcarefloridakeys.com, or call (305) 294-0011.
- Dr. John W Norris III MD PA provides oral and nasal virus screening, as well as blood antibody testing. Call (305) 296-1022.
- Keys Medical Group, Key West, Call for details (305) 293-4073
- Key West Medical Center, Call for details (305) 295-6790
- Key West Urgent Care, Call for details (305) 295-7550
- Urgent Care, Key Largo, Call for details (305) 453-0666
- Keys AHEC conducts viral and antibody testing for current patients and extended family members at all its sites. Call (305) 743-7111.
- Islamorada, Village of Islands has committed $50,000 to pay for COVID-19 testing for uninsured Islamorada residents, including those over the age of 65, at risk, and any resident who wishes to be
tested regardless of symptoms. (More information is forthcoming.)
- Lower Keys Medical Center provides rapid COVID-19 testing for patients in the community whose healthcare providers determine that they meet the criteria. Pre-operative COVID-19 testing is also performed four days prior to a surgical patient’s scheduled procedure. Call (305) 294-5531.
- Baptist Health South Florida – Fishermen’s Community Hospital and Mariners Hospital emergency rooms both offer COVID-19 testing to patients who exhibit severe symptoms or require hospitalization. Community members can also use the Baptist Health Care On Demand telehealth app for a virtual consultation to assess symptoms and determine next steps. Call (305) 743-5533 (Fishermen’s); (305) 434-3000 (Fishermen’s)