Jacksonville citizens and businesses wrestle with uncertainty

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a week of drive-through COVID-19 testing in Jacksonville, it’s still unclear how much the coronavirus outbreak has spread throughout the city.

But this much is certain: everyone, from individuals to businesses, has been impacted.

More than 2,000 people have undergone testing between the federally managed site at Lot J and the city-run testing site outside the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

As results roll in, it’s anticipated that Jacksonville will see an increase in the number of positive tests as officials expand access to testing to reach more of the population.

Testing is now free of charge at the Prime Osborn site (use the promo code HERE4YOU on Telescope Health’s app). On Saturday, the Lot J site is lifting the requirement that people have a 99.6-degree temperature or higher.

Even as more people get tested, getting answers is taking longer than expected. Many of them have contacted News4Jax with concerns about when they could see results.

Mayor Lenny Curry said that while the numbers will go up, it’s difficult to tell what they will really say about the infection rate so far in Jacksonville.

“This is not a representative sample of the population,” Curry said Friday. “This is self-selected…based on the criteria we’ve been given by providers, which is to be symptomatic with respiratory issues and the 99.6-degree temperature.”

The mayor acknowledged he’s been getting questions about the limit on daily testing at the Lot J site. He said the limit is in place to prevent the site from overwhelming the labs examining the tests and also to avoid running out of test kits.

After people get their results, Curry said, they should continue self-isolating and contact their doctors, adding that they should not just show up to the emergency room.

It’s not just individuals feeling the brunt of the outbreak, either.

Small businesses throughout town have been forced to rework their business models, and in some cases even shut down, as a result of the outbreak. On Friday, Curry laid out some of the resources being made available to business owners.

“These are unprecedented times,” he said. “People have been thrust out of normal routines, people have lost their jobs, businesses are closing, businesses are struggling.”

While federal grants and loans are on the way, the mayor said the city has something in the works as well. City officials plan to announce that program sometime next week.

It doesn’t take long to see the outbreak’s impact on the city’s economy. Entire workforces have been laid off or shifted to working from home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Snob, a consignment shop in San Marco, has been closed for two weeks. Owner Rula Carr said she’s feeling the impact firsthand, and she hopes the city can help her and other business owners recover.

“We would like to see the city help with all areas, not just small businesses,” Carr said. “It’s all been impacted by this devastation. We have no idea how long this is going to last.”

“We’re hoping there will be some incentive from the city to help small businesses and help get (San Marco Square) back on its feet,” she added.

Individuals and business owners can check the city’s website for resources to help them during this ordeal. That includes everything from help available to small businesses to mental health resources.

Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

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