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New York helps St. Petersburg set up COVID-19 testing site

Up to 500 tests per day can be performed at Pinellas Community Church.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A new COVID-19 testing site in St. Petersburg is getting ready to go with thousands of individual supplies sent from the state of New York.

The site, located at Pinellas Community Church at 5501 31st St. S., will provide up to 500 tests per day, according to a news release. 

New York-based SOMOS Community care is helping St. Petersburg with the creation of the site, with 124,000 surgical masks, 7,500 test kits, 7,500 gowns and more.

“For us coming down to Florida, it just felt like a necessity or a need, because in the area that we are right now, in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Community Church, that place is a hotspot right now in St. Petersburg," said Dr. Yomaris Peña, the testing site lead from SOMOS Community Care.

Her team has traveled to St. Petersburg, with many donating their time, to test patients, free of charge. 

"There is a spike in minorities down there. People without insurance, people without papers. It doesn’t matter, we will take care of them," explained Dr. Ramon Tallaj, the chairman of SOMOS. 

People can call 833-NYS-4-FLA to get an appointment. The site is open through Saturday, Aug. 1.

"In our time of need, I asked on one dark day when I was doing a briefing for volunteers to come help us. I asked for doctors and nurses to come to New York, and 30,000 people from across the country rolled up their sleeves to help," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in the release. "I know I speak for all New Yorkers when I say we will always be grateful for that help that came to us, and we are paying back the favor today by sending PPE to St. Petersburg, where we've worked together to establish a community testing site.

"We will continue to return the favor and lend help to whoever needs it."

In recent weeks, New York has helped to establish COVID-19 testing sites in Savannah, Georgia, Houston and Atlanta. It also sent shipments of the drug remdesivir, which is being used as a therapeutic for COVID-19 patients, to the state of Florida.

"As Florida continues to confront the worst of COVID-19, I am grateful for the State of New York's technical assistance and guidance, along with donations of test kits and vital supplies, and am proud to partner with them to ensure residents in our hardest hit neighborhoods have access to additional testing," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said in the release.

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