Clay County Upping COVID-19 Testing And Food Distribution As Businesses Reopen

May 1, 2020
Originally published on April 30, 2020 11:43 am

Clay County is additional testing sites as it begins its reopening.

Clay County Emergency Management Director John Ward said Thursday the testing sites will be located across different parts of the county on different dates: 

  • Keystone Heights - Little Rain Lake Park (May 4 - May 5, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 
  • Middleburg - Omega Park (May 6 - May 7, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 
  • Green Cove Springs - County Administration Building staff parking lot (May 8 & May 11, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 
  • Oakleaf - Oakleaf Community Park (May 12 - May 13, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.)
  • Orange Park - Walter Odum Park (May 14 - May 15, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Only Clay County residents will be able to get tested at these sites, and they are by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, residents must call (877) 252-9362. 

People being tested must show some symptoms, including a cough, shortness of breath, or other respiratory symptoms. Ward said a fever is not a necessary symptom to be tested, as long as the person is exhibiting other symptoms. 

The resident must also bring an ID and their own pen.

“I just want to caveat with, as we're testing, we know numbers are going to increase,” Ward said. “But the cases are already in the community, and many of them are asymptomatic.”

The positivity rate for COVID-19 in the county based on testing so far is at 7.3%, according to Heather Huffman with the Clay County division of the Florida Department of Health. 

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Phase One of his statewide reopening plan Wednesday evening. In that plan, DeSantis said there would be an emphasis on additional testing.

For Phase One reopenings, Clay County will follow state guidelines, with 25% indoor capacity allowed at restaurants and retail stores. Restaurants can also allow outdoor seating with six feet of space between tables. 

Movie theaters, gyms, bars and personal services like hairdressers will remain closed during Phase One.

Elective surgeries can resume after they were halted to focus on COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

Ward also said that there is a growing need for food in the community. 

“Due to unemployment, due to lack of pay, whatever it may be, we're seeing that food need rise,” Ward said. “So now this week, we started what I'm going to call a food box operation.” 

Ward said with food they receive, they’ll package a week’s worth of meals and ship them out to different distribution areas.

To call attention to the food issue, Ward is asking residents in need to sign up for meal  assistance on the county’s emergency management website to justify to the state why they’re ordering the amount of food they are.

Along with food banks in the community, Ward talked about five food distribution centers in Clay County: 

  • Celebration Church Orange Park Campus (Open Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 
  • The Springs Church, Orange Park (Open Fridays, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 
  • The Church of Eleven22 - Fleming Island Campus (Open Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.) 
  • First Baptist Church of Middleburg (Open Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • McRae Elementary School, Keystone Heights (Open Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) 

Ward said the combination of food banks and assistance programs have provided over 488,000 meals to the community since March 13. 

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.

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