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The Villages
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Coronavirus testing site at polo fields strictly for residents of The Villages

A large-scale Coronavirus testing site that’s opening Monday morning in The Villages will be restricted to residents of the mega-retirement community.

The drive-through “Villages-style” site, which is encouraging golf cart traffic, will be at the polo fields. Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the site in a Saturday press conference and plans to be there Monday to bless it’s opening.

Tents were being organized Saturday for the drive-up testing site at The Villages Polo Fields that opens Monday.

The site is being operated by UF Health, owner of the renowned Shands Hospital in Gainesville. That massive healthcare organization also has a partnership with The Villages and owns the hospitals in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown and Leesburg.

A posting by UF Health says the tests will be limited to Villagers, the vast majority of whom are seniors. The thousands of other seniors who live in surrounding retirement communities like Del Webb Spruce Creek, Water Oak, Spruce Creek South and Stonecrest – to name a few – apparently won’t be welcome at the site, even though they also are among the most vulnerable to the virus.

“Unfortunately, test kits and supplies are limited due to resource issues at the state and national levels,” the UF Health posting says. “As a result, we can only offer a limited number of testing appointments each day and currently only to residents of The Villages.”
The site – https://ufhealthcovid.com/ – says the program includes two “testing arms:”

  • The first one focuses on clinical testing using FDA-approved tests under guidelines set out by the CDC.
  • The second one focuses on voluntary research testing and uses supplies and test kits provided by The University of Florida Infectious Disease Lab that haven’t yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The site asks those seeking testing to answer questions to determine which arm of testing they would be “eligible” for. After doing so, they will be directed to the appropriate page to sign up for an appointment, “assuming testing supplies are available.”

A sign posted at the Saddlebrook Softball Complex addresses those who think they may be suffering from the Coronavirus.

The questions Villagers are being asked to answer involve medical conditions and circumstances that have applied to them in the past 14 days. Those include fever, cough, shortness of breath, international travel, cruise ship travel, close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or none of the above.

Villagers also are being reminded that appointments for testing will be released one day in advance, with all test slots for the next day coming online each morning at 8 a.m. Those slots are allocated to those who sign up first and if none are available on a given day, Villagers can try again the following morning.

The testing site at the polo fields marks the second such effort in the sprawling retirement community. Premier Medical Associates launched a similar drive-through effort a week ago and has tested about 15-20 people per day. The healthcare organization has fielded about 2,200 Coronavirus-related calls at its 15 Central Florida locations and late last week, its vice president of patient care, Lina Cohen, put out an impassioned plea via a Facebook video for help from the state and smaller labs that might have testing swabs available.

Even though Premier’s testing site is located in The Villages – 1580 Santa Barbara Blvd. near UF Health The Villages Hospital – it hasn’t been restricted to Villagers nor just to patients of the healthcare provider.

“We are in this together,” Cohen said on her video. “This is about the whole country standing up together to help one another.”

Coronavirus testing was taking place last week at Premier Medical Associates, located at 1580 Santa Barbara Blvd.

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