About half of those tested for COVID-19 on the first day of a drive-thru site in Pensacola were positive.

Ascension Sacred Heart has restarted its drive-thru test site due to an increase in cases and hospitalizations, setting a Tuesday day test record of 649.

But the positivity rate of around 50% should not be the community’s goal for the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to Escambia County Public Safety Director Eric Gilmore. Instead, he said the biggest concern should be the number of people hospitalized because of the virus.

“Omicron is said to spread very quickly. You will hear a rate of positivity. If you look at the hospitalizations, they’re increasing… but it’s not exponential like it was with delta (variant), ”he said. “People think they need to do something when they test positive, but most of the time they can stay home and self-medicate, which takes a lot of unnecessary burden off hospitals.”

He said not many people have to be tested to return to school or work, so probably most people tested feel bad and are more likely to test positive.

“They hear that the Sacred Heart is accessible, so that’s where they go to get it,” he said, contributing to the high positivity rate.

Gilmore said Escambia County will continue to monitor the number of hospitalizations in hopes the number will drop below 50 in the near term. As of Wednesday, there were 116 hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in Escambia County.

COVID-19 drive-thru testing is currently available as follows:

Sacred Heart Ascension (Thursday and Friday)

The Ascension Sacré-Cœur drive-thru service will be open until Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 5192, boulevard Bayou. No pre-registration or appointment is necessary. The testing site will offer the traditional swab PCR test which will be sent to the laboratory at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola Hospital. Laboratory results will be available within 24 hours.

Ascension Medical Group will charge a patient’s insurance (if insured), but the service will be provided free of charge for the test. Those wishing to take a test must bring valid ID and an insurance card.

Decisions regarding Ascension Sacred Heart testing beyond this week have yet to be made.

Community health (Thursday only)

Community Health Northwest Florida, in partnership with Escambia County, will offer COVID-19 drive-thru testing Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Brownsville Community Center, 3200 West Desoto Street. The PCR test will be available; no quick tests.

The event is open to all ages with no preselection or appointment required. Participants must wear a mask and bring their photo ID and insurance card (if insured).


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