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Escambia County Resumes COVID-19 Testing


Testing for the coronavirus resumes in Escambia County today, after a six-month hiatus.

“Back in January we temporarily suspended our COVID-19 testing; at that time, testing was pretty available in the community and we needed to turn our focus to our contact tracing and new vaccination efforts,” said Marie Mott, administrator at the Florida Department of Health in Escambia.

As vaccinations began to increase, and positivity rates began to decline, the need for testing appeared to decrease as well.

“That was followed by closure and reduction of services of several testing sites in our area,” Mott said. “So what we’re trying to do now is kind of meet the rising need in the community for testing, by offering testing at no cost.”

The resumption comes amid reports of the Delta variant of COVID becoming the predominant strain of the disease. But Mott said other reasons are also at work.

“The resumption of testing services is really mainly to make sure that people who want or need to get tested have access to as many opportunities to be tested as possible,” she said.

“The Delta variant is already responsible for half of all cases in many parts of this country,” said President Joe Biden, speaking last week. “Millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk; their friends are at risk; [and] the people they care about are at risk.”

The president is urging — again — Americans to roll up their sleeves and get the shots, citing an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant, which health officials say is now found in all 50 states.

“It seems to me, that this should cause everybody to think twice,” Biden said. “And it should cause reconsideration, especially young people – who may have thought that they didn’t have to be vaccinated -- didn’t have to worry about it and didn’t have to do anything about it up to now. But the good news is, that our vaccinations are highly effective – including against this Delta variant.”

Those wishing to be tested, says DOH Escambia’s Marie Mott, will need an appointment to visit the health department every Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1p.m.

“People can schedule an appointment by calling (850) 595-6554; testing is available for all ages, all people, whether or not they have symptoms,” said Marie Mott at DOH. “And we continue to offer same-day COVID vaccine appointments and walk-in appointments to eligible persons – and those are Monday through Friday, from 8 to 4.”

While no update was available, Mott did say there’s been a general increase in the number of positive cases in recent days.

“We definitely want to encourage people to take advantage of opportunities to get vaccinated to prevent disease transmission,” she said. “And also to continue to practice precautionary measures, such as staying home when you’re sick, washing your hands, wearing face coverings — those type of things — when the situation warrants.”

More information is available at escambiahealth.com.