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Manatee County Commissioners Approve More Funding For COVID-19 Testing

Manatee County has been conducting drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Bradenton Convention Center in Palmetto.
Manatee County has been conducting drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Bradenton Convention Center in Palmetto.

Manatee County commissioners have voted to purchase additional COVID-19 testing kits.  The move comes as the county continues to ramp up its testing capacity.

For weeks, Manatee County lagged behind the rest of the state when it came to testing. At the same time, the county was seeing a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared to elsewhere in Florida.

Commissioners had been expressing increased frustration over the lack of available testing kits from the state. They went ahead and authorized spending $200,000 to buy kits from the private market in order to help the county reach its new goal of testing 2 percent of Manatee County residents.

Since then, local lobbying efforts to officials in Tallahassee resulted in a flurry of new state support. On Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis visited Sarasota to tout a regional testing site at the University Town Center Mall near the Manatee-Sarasota County line.

The location is Florida’s 12th state-supported site. It is expected to remain open through at least May 17.

National Guard strike teams also were deployed to the county's long-term care facilities where a majority of the county's cases have been found.

According to the latest data released by the Florida Department of Health, Manatee County has seen 93 residents at nine different skilled nursing homes or assisted living facilities test positive for the coronavirus sofar. And at least 66 staff members at those same facilities have confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, the FDOH website reported that 6,779 people had been tested in Manatee County. A total of 737 people tested positive, and 68 people have died.

The Department of Health in Manatee County and Manatee County Government will co-host a third round of drive-through testing for Manatee County residents at the Bradenton Area Convention Center through May 8, and again May 11, May 15 and May 29. To make an appointment, call (941) 748-0747.

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