HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — In a Saturday press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis applauded the amount of coronavirus testing being done here in the state, saying Florida has some of the most expansive testing in the world. He also said the number of tests will continue to go up.
Still, many who need the test, don’t have access to it. Which is why Hillsborough County is working on expanding testing to those in low income areas.
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Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group is going to consider adding a mobile testing unit. A medical vehicle, filled with tests and healthcare workers, that would drive to those who aren’t able to drive themselves to a testing site.
As of now, a requirement for getting tested for the coronavirus in Tampa Bay, is that you have a vehicle.
“There are a significant number of citizens within Hillsborough County that don’t have vehicles,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberley Overman.
When you arrive at a drive-up testing site, you’re supposed to stay in your car, and be the only one inside. Commissioner Overman worries that because of this, too many of the county’s most vulnerable population don’t have access to tests.
“Our most vulnerable, those without vehicles, also tend to be those with more complicated health, they are our most at-risk citizens,” said Overman.
As of today, the county is reporting just under 11,000 coronavirus tests being done, in a county of more than 1.4 million people.
“So we really don’t know who has it and who doesn’t,” said Overman.
Those numbers are very comparable to statewide numbers. Around 1 in every 136 people is being tested in Hillsborough County. At the state level, around 1 in every 125 people is being tested
Governor DeSantis announced in a press conference Saturday that Florida’s ratio of tests per person is one of the best.
“Florida has now received test results from over 173,000, so that’s a ratio of about 1 in every 125 Floridians. Once we hit 215,000 tests, which we think we will later this week, that’ll be 1 test result for everyone 100 Floridians, and that is pretty good ratio. South Korea was viewed as leading the way in testing, and they had reached 1 of every 200 individuals,” said Governor DeSantis.
Still, Commissioner Overman believes that locally, we need to focus just as much on the low income areas as everywhere else.
“Zip codes of greater affluence, more stable households, we’re seeing more testing in those areas, and those areas are showing up hot,” said Overman.
Overman said the reason for this is due to those more affluent neighborhoods having greater access.
“If it’s in one area of the town it’s going to be everywhere else,” said Overman.
The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is meeting Monday to discuss the mobile testing unit.