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Exclusive: CBS4 News Takes A Look Inside Tropical Park's COVID-19 Testing Site

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - CBS4 News went inside a busy drive-up, COVID-19 testing site Tuesday at Tropical Park for the first time and found that nurses are working extraordinary hours while helping people who need tests.

In an exclusive tour of the site, run by Miami-Dade County, CBS4's Peter D'Oench was told by NOMI Health that registered and licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants were testing between 8,000 and 10,000 people a day at the site that offers free tests, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That compares with 3,000 to 4,000 people being tested at the site every day this past October.

NOMI Health operates 100 such sites statewide and says as many as 50 people work at the site at Tropical Park, providing the results of rapid tests in an hour and the results of PCR tests in 24 to 72 hours.

Registered nurse Yanette Shipp said she works at the site 13 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week.

She said, "I am happy to see a lot of people coming through here because they are concerned and trying to make sure they get tested and are safe with their family members and going out and at work. It is busier with the new variant that has come out because people are concerned and they want to know if they have been exposed. When in doubt, get tested for peace of mind. There have been cases showing people positive with COVID and having in symptoms and then you have persons with symptoms but they are negative. Even if you have questions, it is best to know for sure."

"As a nurse, it's an honor to serve this community and I have been a nurse for 20 years," she said. "Every day, we are out here sacrificing ourselves to try to make sure the community is safe so we can get past this pandemic that we are in right now. This can be difficult with influxes of people so we are urging our patients to be patient. We are trying to help people as quickly as possible and give them care."

LPN Rhonda Robinson says she works 13 to 16 hours a day at the site 6 days a week.

"How do I do that?" she asked. "Truthfully, the grace of God and I know there is a need here and people need to get tested so you make yourself available. I love it. It's very rewarding and also more rewarding when you know you are appreciated by the people of South Florida. It is a great feeling knowing that we are caring for the community and taking care of everyone."

Ron Goncalves, the General Manager of Nomi Health, said, "We all anticipated this would be busy due to an increase from the holidays due to the spread of Omicron. We are seeing double the peak from testing related to the Delta variant."

He said there have been some delays in getting test results.

"We are seeing a challenge to our gold standard of 24 hours of tests going out and some tests are going outside that. We are working around the clock to be at that standard. We are also seeing the volumes going down slightly but it is not enough to say that we are over the hump but we are hopeful."

Irene Amador drove her son Michael Don to be tested.

Don said, "It's really impressive with all this work they are doing and I just wanted to be tested to make sure other people are safe."

Amador said, "It is amazing what work these nurses are doing. Without them, we would be totally lost. It is chaos as it is. This just makes us feel safer and I do appreciate them immensely. I know they work very hard and they put up with a lot."

Turning to Shipp, D'Oench asked her, "How does that make you feel, her appreciation."

Shipp said, "It makes me feel really good. I am honored to serve the community and I say thank you to the community for coming out to get tested."

Amador said, "That is what it takes to get back to some normalcy."

CBS4 toured the Tropical Park site as Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced that the 7-day positivity rate for Miami-Dade County was 35% and said that 47,880 people were tested for COVID-19 on Monday. She also said 273 patients with COVID in Miami-Dade occupied ICU beds. She also noted that FDA and noted that the CDC had approved booster shots for children 12 years and older.

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