CHARLOTTE COUNTY — The Charlotte County Department of Health will be providing its first drive-thru COVID-19 testing site starting today.

Testing will be at Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, in Port Charlotte. There is no cost for the test, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Testing is by appointment only and can be made by registering at https://COADFL.org/COVID-19-Testing-Assessment. Appointments will be made from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but are subject to change.

This test is only for those who believe they currently have the virus. Anti-body testing is not being done at this location.

Wearing a mask

Additionally, the Charlotte County Health Department issued a press release Wednesday urging residents to wear cloth face mask coverings while in public places to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“A significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms,” the CDC states on its website, meaning that people feeling absolutely fine can unknowingly spread the virus. “Even those who eventually develop symptoms ... can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.”

“A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others.”

In late March, the CDC did not recommend asymptomatic, healthy people to wear face masks to protect themselves, but changed that in early April as more studies came out regarding how the coronavirus spreads.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public places where other social distancing measures are hard to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. However, face masks are not a substitute for social distancing, it is just an additional public health measure to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing or coughing. Residents should continue to stay 6 feet apart and wash their hands frequently.

Cloth masks can be made from household items at low cost, like from a hand towel, a bandanna, or an old T-shirt, along with two rubber bands.

“It’s that easy,” said Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, after he made his own cloth mask in a video on the CDC website.

“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators,” the CDC states on its website. “Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.”

There are some people who should not wear face masks, such as children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, according to the CDC.

Though the rate of new cases in Florida has slowed since mid-April, there were more than 4,400 new cases in the week between May 2-8, and more than 3,200 new cases from May 9-13, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

As of Wednesday, there were over 42,400 total cases statewide and 1,827 deaths.

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