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Long lines for Patients First COVID-19 testing negatively impacts nearby businesses

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 23:21:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There's mayhem on Mahan as lines of people wait to get tested for COVID-19.

The line for Patients First's drive-thru coronavirus testing is now causing an issue for nearby businesses.

Three businesses along the strip say the line for testing is the reason they have taken a major financial hit for the past week or so, saying their customers cannot access their buildings.

The line stretches all the way down Mahan, wrapping around to Magnolia Drive and blocking the entrance of many businesses along the way.

People are waiting up to six hours to get tested for COVID-19.

City officials say the Tallahassee Police Department is working with Patients First to help with that traffic backup, but they say the facility is not in the right place to handle the amount of patients.

"Traffic was all the way backed up," said Denver Raney, of Jenny's Lunchbox. "Saturday was the absolute worst."

Raney helps out her son who owns Jenny's Lunchbox. She says this past week lines from Patients First testing site on Mahan Drive have caused a lot of stress and blocked the entrance to the restaurant.

"We probably had ten to go orders called in and they couldn't get in to get them," Raney said. "So that means we lost that business."

Now, representatives from the clinic are out trying to keep cars from blocking driveways.

Some businesses say it's too late and the damage has already been done.

Micheal Huff owns Atlas Body Shop. His business has already taking a 60 percent hit. Customers have canceled because they cant get to him.

"We just got told two weeks ago that we could open," said Huff. "We had one good week and then this happened."

One owner with two businesses on the strip says he's out of thousands of dollars, and it's not just from lack of business.

Scott Flowers owns two businesses next to each other, G. Willies and Sprinkles Paradise Treats, the latter opening just this year.

He says, between the loss of clientele and the damage inside his business because of people in the line using his restrooms, he’s out of thousands of dollars.

"Because they're in this line for four to six hours they need bathroom breaks and we’ve have a couple of clogged toilets," said Flowers. "And one ended up creating a significant amount of damage to our downstairs tenant, and so we’re on the hook for several thousand dollars for that in addition to the thousands of dollars in lost revenue."

Flowers says he and other nearby owners have reached out to the city and Tallahassee Police Department but haven’t heard back.

They have also tried to get in contact with Patients First staff to come up with a compromise, but nothing has happened yet.

As a result, about 49 businesses along the strip have signed a Cease & Desist notice to have Patients First stop testing because of the backup.

A Patients First representative says over the past few days they have been testing an average of 250 people a day.

They said they are working with the city to determine a site that will be able to handle the amount of people looking to get tested.

In the meantime, TPD put signs on Magnolia Drive and has officers out reminding people not to block driveways.