Emphasis on testing renewed amid new COVID-19 strain in Florida

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-01 18:10:22-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida is now the third state to see a case of the new, possibly more contagious-strain of COVID-19.

Federal health leaders said the strain is responsible for a surge of cases in the United Kingdom.

Now, while much is still unknown about the virus, health experts said you can check if you've had it through an antigen test.

"Testing saves lives and getting those fast results is extremely critical," said CDR Health CEO Tina Vidal-Duart.

She said, as doctors figure out more about this particular strain of coronavirus, the best first step is finding out whether you're positive or not.

"Until we have that herd immunity as a result of mass vaccinations or because the majority of the population has already contracted the virus, and has some sort of antibodies, we still need to do mass testing," said Vidal-Duart.

The Department of Health reports, while the variant could be about 70 percent more contagious, it does not seem to be more dangerous. DOH also does not anticipate this strain to largely impact the effectiveness of the vaccine.

State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said they've prepared with PPE for whatever comes next.

"We did that early," said Moskowitz. "We're talking tens of millions of masks and gloves and gowns sitting in warehouses in case there is some sort of change here."

Although Moskowitz acknowledged it's still very early on, the state will be following CDC's lead on what to do when it comes to tackling the virus.

"I think the information is just starting to come out so obviously we're ready to react," said Moskowitz. "We don't want to overreact. We want to wait for the CDC to give us the information."

CDR Health's private testing center opens on Jan. 7. It's located at 1981 Capital Circle Northeast in Tallahassee.

You can also get a free antigen test at Florida A&M's Bragg Memorial Stadium site, Monday through Saturday.