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Debbie Delahanty had good reason to stand in line Tuesday with hundreds of others at North Collier Regional Park in North Naples for free testing for COVID-19.

A bicycle crash two weeks ago when she was hit by a car meant a trip to the emergency room for her injuries.

“You’re in there and you’re vulnerable,” Delahanty, 53, said, referring to potential exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 from strangers in the emergency room.

She suffered a broken arm and foot, had to get 48 stitches in her head, and is still bruised.


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Still, Delahanty had no qualms waiting an hour or so for the test at the regional park, a sentiment shared by many who turned out for the first day of free COVID-19 testing by the Florida National Guard.

Testing started at 9 a.m. but people started lining up shortly before 7 a.m., said Kristine Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Collier County.

“We had 75 people in line when we opened,” Hollingsworth said.

The public health agency is helping to coordinate the testing that continues Wednesday at the same site from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, 633 people were tested, Hollingsworth said.

A second testing site will be at South Regional Library at 8065 Lely Cultural Parkway on Friday and Saturday, both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No referral is needed for testing. People must provide their name, contact phone number and address.

For each testing day, the National Guard has 750 test kits, Hollingsworth said. The National Guard is using the nasal swab testing. Results take a few days.

Positive test results for COVID-19 continue to increase statewide with ramped-up testing even though Florida is reopening for business in phases.

Coronavirus in Florida: COVID-19 numbers in Collier County for May 19

More: Physician burnout amid COVID-19 pandemic a growing concern

The state has 46,944 cases and there have been 2,052 deaths, according to data reported Tuesday. The state health department does not report the number of people who have recovered.

Three more deaths were reported overnight in Collier for a total of 40 deaths. Collier has seen 1,030 positive test results for COVID-19.

In Lee County, the number of deaths held overnight at 89 deaths and the number of positive cases is now at 1,520, according to DOH.

The line for the free testing Tuesday quickly wrapped around the park complex with marks on the sidewalk for social distancing. It appeared everyone wore masks.

The health department and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office offered assistance with bottles of water to keep everyone hydrated.

June Payne, 65, recently relocated to Naples from Silicon Valley. She decided to get tested so she can volunteer in a medical clinic using her training as a registered nurse. She once worked in a hospital trauma unit.

She understands how nurses in hospitals and other clinical settings are fearful of exposure.

“It’s very scary,” she said. “There’s not enough testing and people don’t know if they have it.”

Wayne Franco, 70, wants to see his two grandchildren in Miami and that’s why he came for testing.

“I wouldn’t have taken the chance (before),” he said. “It’s been four months since I’ve seen them and it’s killing me.”

Franco was impressed by how organized the testing was and how the line was moving along.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s much better than I expected,” Franco said. “Everyone in line has been quiet and cooperative and nobody has been fussing.”

This week’s testing is the second time the National Guard has been to Collier County. In early May, the National Guard conducted testing in Immokalee.

About 2,100 National Guard troops in Florida are conducting mobile testing around the state and have tested roughly 220,000, according to the state DOH earlier this week.

On Tuesday the federal Department of Health and Human Services reported Florida is receiving nearly $421 million in new funding for statewide testing.

Kevin Smith, 69, arrived at 8 a.m. at the park with his wife, Margaret Smith, 63. They were done around 10 a.m. They were happy with how it went.

“Everyone was very courteous and professional,” he said.

Visit www.floridahealthcovid19.gov/ for more information.

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