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Port Charlotte Publix among 3 state locations to offer COVID-19 testing

There are now some Publix locations in the state, where you can walk into a tent outside the store and get screened for coronavirus. This could become a new routine: Go to the grocery store for food and leave with a COVID-19 test.

We visited one of the new state-supported testing sites at a Publix in Port Charlotte  Thursday.

“Just weird,” said Kevin Maldonado in Port Charlotte. “I imagine maybe a clinic or a hospital.”

The state now supports free coronavirus testing at three Florida Publix parking lots, including the Publix at Port Charlotte Crossing in Charlotte County.

Maldonado and his family arrived early to be the first tested, but Mother Nature delayed the day’s kickoff by about two hours.

“We heard it was supposed to be starting around nine, so we wanted to be here a little bit earlier,” Maldonado said.

The state worked with Publix to determine the best locations for testing. And the Publix at Port Charlotte Crossing is in the zip code with the most coronavirus cases in Charlotte County. The other two Publix testing locations are in Coral Springs and Deltona.

“This is a convenient way,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “You can’t necessarily make it out to the drive-through sites, but you’re running an errand, and you want to get swabbed. You can go do that at our store testing sites.”

“It’s close and convenient. I don’t mind that it’s outside. I think outside is a good thing,” Robert Lohorn said.

Since the testing site is outdoors, it could temporarily close during bad weather.

FDOH says Florida Division of Emergency Management is providing staffing and personal protective equipment at each site. Each of these walk-up, parking lot test sites will be able to conduct up to 100 tests per day. Tests will be sent to Quest Diagnostics and results will be available within five to seven days.

Testing is free at these sites and available to anyone over the age of 18, regardless of symptoms. You don’t need a prescription, appointment or symptoms to get tested.

Testing will be available at the three testing sites outside Publix stores 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We want to make sure I’m not asymptomatic or that I’m not infected at all,” Maldonado said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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