MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With possible tropical storm conditions heading to South Florida this weekend, state-supported COVID-19 testing sites will temporarily close starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
"The decision to close the sites is a safety decision to dismantle these areas, these temporary tents, all the logistical cones, the fans, the tables, everything takes time to dismantle," said Marcos Osorio with the Florida State Emergency Response Team.
But it's not just about dismantling and securing the sites, it's also about the people doing the testing.
"A lot of these nurses and a lot of people who work here are not local, so they need to get back home and they need to get a safe distance from the tropical storm," said Osorio.
Coronavirus testing sites at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Hard Rock Stadium, Tropical Park and Marlins Park are among the ones closing on Thursday.
This also includes the five federal drive-thru sites in Miami-Dade and Broward counties located at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, MacArthur High School in Hollywood, Miami Jackson High School in Miami, and the Miami-Dade Auditorium.
Prior to testing sites closing, symptomatic people are being encouraged to receive a self-swab test at a state-supported drive-thru testing site. A list of those sites can be found here.
People with symptoms will be prioritized and get their results within 72 hours.
State officials said they don't anticipate a backlog when the sites do open back up.
"The website that you register on, that site will actually give the appointments once we reopen and push those people back into those slots," said Osorio.
The test sites are closing for the first time when the hurricane season and the pandemic collide. Officials are reminding people to not let their guard down and remember social distancing even while they're at home this weekend.
"Just as you would prepare with the water and canned food, we would tell you go ahead and also prepare for the COVID," said Osorio.
The sites are anticipated to open back up next week by Wednesday but that could all change depending on the severity of the storm and its impact on South Florida.
While sites are closed, individuals are encouraged to follow all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the recent Public Health Advisory issued by the Florida Department of Health.
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