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Residents relieved about free COVID-19 testing coming to Tallahassee's southside

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 19:03:34-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Equipping one of Tallahassee's most vulnerable communities with the one of the best tools to stop the spread of COVID-19.

People living on the southside say they've felt cast aside when it comes to getting tested for COVID-19.

Now, the previous worries, like transportation and having a primary care physician, are over.

This Saturday, Florida A&M University is opening a walk-up testing site.

Unlike the Northwood Center site, you're not required to be in a car to get tested. You also don't have to present a doctor's order.

This site opened specifically to meet the needs of the people in the lower income neighborhoods on the southside of town.

While clinics like Bond Community Health and Neighborhood Medical Center are testing patients, the resources have been low.

That's why some people believe there are more cases in their communities than we know about.

"I know lots of people who wanted to get tested," said Mary Williams, who lives on the southside. "They got special people, you have to go through your primary care just to get tested for the virus. That's not right."

Testing is an important step in fighting the coronavirus, but for many, it's hard to come by.

"I feel like if people want to get tested, they should have things set up so that anybody who wants to, can get tested," Williams said. "Not have to go through this and that just to get tested for a virus."

But the people on Tallahassee's southside are now getting a fair chance to testing thanks to Florida A & M University and Bond Community Health's Walk Up Testing Site.

"I'm very excited to see that the Bond Community Center is stepping up to fill a gap that we've been voicing concern over," said Stanley Sims, a resident in the southside.

"Many of our patients, when they come with COVID symptoms, you see the bus stop in front of you," said Dr. Temple O. Robinson, the CEO of Bond Community Health Center. "So once you're off the bus, you're off the bus. There's no way we can get a prescription, fax the referral down to Northwood, and then figure out how we're going to get you to Northwood."

In a community lacking healthcare options, many also aren't able to provide a note from a primary care physician.

"We're going to use this opportunity to try to educate anyone who comes to learn why it's important that you have a primary care physician," Dr. Robinson said.

But most importantly, the site is giving a piece of mind to the community.

"I just hope this will go on and get it clear so we can all go on back to normal and living our life right," said WIlliams. "Families are dying. People are dying everywhere. "

Testing will open at Bragg Memorial Stadium Saturday.

The site will open on Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m. until to 6 p.m., and will be open for 14 days.

They plan to do 200 tests per day.

Dr. Robinson says the site could remain open longer if the demand is great enough.