TAMPA, Fla — "The company that provides the rapid test says they're not aware of anyone in the United States doing the mobile lab."
That was part of an announcement Gov. Ron DeSantis made almost a month ago when he introduced Florida's first mobile testing lab. He said it would be a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19 in long-term care.
"StatLab is a mobile clinical laboratory. And, so basically just a lab on wheels. And right now, we are working with the state of Florida to do COVID testing," Jason Blilie said.
The mobile lab is specifically focused on the state's nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The StatLab team works with nurses and the National Guard to test for COVID-19 and the tests can be processed within 24 hours.
"The amount of testing that we're able to do is just critical to flattening the curve," Blilie said.
10 Investigates wanted to know exactly when and where and how much testing has taken place.
"So, the state is selecting all the locations. So, we don't really have any say as far as where we're staying and how long we're staying," Blilie said.
The state said more than 3,400 tests have been processed by the mobile testing lab so far.
But, the state has only directed the mobile lab to test people living and working at eight places in the Tampa Bay area, most of which only had a few COVID-19 cases. One of the places on the list, Abbey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, isn't even listed with any cases by the Florida Department of Health.
There are 131 facilities in the Tampa Bay Area that have seen positive cases of coronavirus. So, it is understandable how relieved people are to see this lab rolling into their neighborhood.
"We can see it in the faces, they appreciate us being on site. And you know, the state is really paying attention and sending resources to help them in the efforts to flatten this curve. So, it's, I think, overall, it's been really great," Blilie said.
He says the response has been so great the company plans to see the business expanding even when this pandemic is over.
"We're talking to some stakeholders and some different folks about what sort of serology tests they want to see being implemented. And so, that's an offering that's likely to be on our next units. And then after that, we'll resume a full-service clinical laboratory. That means everything that you're able to get done at a normal lab or through your doctor," Blilie said.
The 10-member StatLab team can test up to 500 people a day for COVID-19.
The Department of Health said the mobile lab will be in Highlands County this week.
StatLab was recently sent to Cape Canaveral where it offered testing to about 60 VIPs and others at Kennedy Space Center. The lab then made a stop in Sebring and will be headed back to the space center on Saturday.
StatLab was invited by the State and the Florida Department of Emergency Management.
Here's where StatLab has done testing in the Tampa Bay area:
- Brookdale Palmer Ranch Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility
- Elmcroft of Bella Vita
- Discovery Village at Sarasota Bay
- Summerfield Retirement
- Abbey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
- Bellair Health Care Center Nursing Home
- Allegro Hyde Park
- Aldea Green
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