COVID testing in Brevard: Long waits at test sites; at-home rapid tests can be hard to find

·6 min read

Two weeks ago, county officials said, there were no long lines of people at Brevard's COVID testing sites.

Now, along with some pharmacy shelves stripped of at-home COVID test kits, waits of up to two hours are being reported at the county's four Emergency Management-supported test locations.

Between the surge in COVID cases and the glut of test-seekers after holiday closures, don't expect those waits to get shorter anytime soon, said Don Walker, Brevard County communications director.

And there's a definite surge, "much of which we believe is fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus," said Walker.

"We’re afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better."

Signs direct people to the COVID-19 vaccination  and testing facilities at Florida Department of Health complex at 2555 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera.
Signs direct people to the COVID-19 vaccination and testing facilities at Florida Department of Health complex at 2555 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera.

According to the latest information released by the Florida Department of Health, the county's COVID cases have jumped 50.2 per 100,000 to 199 per 100,000 between Dec. 17 and Dec. 24 (the next update comes Dec. 31).

'We are currently classified as a community of high transmission," Walker said. "Correspondingly, the demand for testing has jumped and we are experiencing longer lines and wait times."

"We ask everyone to exercise patience. Numbers of cases are increasing and the demand for testing coincides with the rising numbers. However, there is more testing available now in the county than at any point previously in the pandemic."

Still, Walker said, county officials anticipate demand to continue increasing, which puts greater demand on staffing.

"We are currently not experiencing any shortage as far as testing supplies." he said. "The county is working with our vendors to streamline processes where possible, but again we encourage those who show up at our test sites to please be patient. As always, your best defense against the virus is to get vaccinated, get your booster shot, keep your hands washed, wear facial coverings, social distance and stay home if you’re sick."

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At-home tests fly off shelves

The Biden administration announced Dec. 21, that Americans will soon be able to have at-home kits mailed to their homes, and guidelines — expected by Jan. 15 — are being developed to allow reimbursement by group health plans or health insurance providers for over-the-counter COVID diagnostic tests.

In the meantime, a quick trip through pharmacy sections of three Brevard stores found few to none of the rapid antigen kits that can detect infection, and online, "Out of Stock" messages pop up on sites including Walgreens and CVS.

The Tuesday before Christmas, Walgreens began limiting customers to four at-home testing item; at CVS, they're limited to six. Many stores had sold out of the product before the holidays, both online and on the shelves.

“We remain committed to meeting the needs of our customers and patients and are doing all we can to support our communities during this critical time,” John Standley, Walgreens president, said in a pre-holiday news release.

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Melbourne resident Carolyn Perrine and her husband, Tom, were passengers on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line trip from Dec. 23 to Dec. 28.

Just a couple of hours after her return home, she recalled what some passengers, whom she'd met in a pre-cruise Facebook group, went through to be tested locally.

"We needed to test 48 hours in advance, but had some trouble because CVS stopped the rapid tests," Perrine said. "We ended up at Walgreens on Wickham in Suntree with no problem."

A national shortage of rapid at-home tests for COVID-19 continues, as indicated by this sign of the times at a Brevard pharmacy.
A national shortage of rapid at-home tests for COVID-19 continues, as indicated by this sign of the times at a Brevard pharmacy.

Still, others on her ship "had horrendous trouble getting tested in Brevard," Perrine said.

"One guy tried getting one at a CVS and was told to go to Kissimmee. He almost did it, too, until I explained how far it is," she said.

"One woman tested at CVS in Ohio, drove here while awaiting results, but never got results. She went to a Titusville CVS for a test and was told they were all out. That store sent her somewhere else and she made an appointment; she arrived for the appointment and the store was closed. She ended up getting one of the very few tests at the port that RCCL offers for $100-plus. She was positive."

The Perrines, out of an abundance of caution given having cruised, will self-quarantine until they are tested again — and are glad they bought at-home test kits before their departure.

"Just to make sure," Perrine said. "We tried to be very careful on board — but not everybody was."

Contact Kennerly at 321-242-3692 or bkennerly@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bybrittkennerly Facebook: /bybrittkennerly.

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Where to get tested

The following sites are available for either walk-in or appointment-only testing.

Department of Health Brevard, 2555 Judge Fran Jamison Way, Viera, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. This is a walk-up site with appointment-only testing.

Parrish Medical Center, 951 N. Washington Ave., Titusville, Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is a drive-thru site with appointment-only testing.

Rockledge City Center, 920 Barton Blvd., Rockledge, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday. This is a drive-thru site, and walk-ins are allowed.

West Melbourne Community Park, 3000 Minton Rd., West Melbourne, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. This is a walk-up site, and walk-ins are allowed.

Additionally, the website www.211Brevard.org has a list of sites offering testing. Some of those sites require reservations, while others allow walk-ins

Where to get vaccinated:

The Florida Department of Health is offering COVID-19 vaccines at three sites:

Melbourne clinic, 601 E. University Blvd., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Those ages 5-11 can get vaccinated only from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Friday.

Titusville clinic, 611 N. Singleton Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Those ages 5-11 can get vaccinated only from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Friday.

Viera clinic, 2555 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Those ages 5-11 can get vaccinated only from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

COVID-19 vaccines also are available at pharmacies at various local CVS, Publix, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Walmart and Winn-Dixie stores, as well as some urgent-care centers and physician offices. Call ahead for confirmation, as not all stores do the testing.

Where to get the monoclonal antibody treatment:

The monoclonal antibody treatment operation is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily under an outdoor tented area in the southwest corner of the Rockledge City Center parking lot, at 920 Barton Blvd. You must have a positive COVID test to receive an appointment.

The site is at the intersection of Barton and Fiske boulevards. Walk-ins are not available; appointments can be made at https://www.patientportalfl.com/. The site will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: COVID test kits near me: Where can I get a COVID-19 test in Brevard?

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