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Plans Underway to Expand COVID-19 Testing in Immoklaee

Department of Health Collier
Migrant workers read information on COVID-19 prevention on a box truck in Immokalee.

Community leaders and local non-profits are worried about Immokalee. Nearly 26,000 people live there and the nearest hospital is about 40 minutes away.

Interagency efforts have led to public handwashing stations throughout the town. Information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is being distributed in Spanish and Creole on pamphlets and through recorded messages played on a loudspeaker throughout the community. The information is also displayed on a mobile box truck. 

On Thursday, the Immokalee Division Director for Department of Health Collier, Mark Lemke said 153 people in Immokalee have been tested for COVID-19, and 27 tested positive.

“So that makes our positivity rate at about 17.65 percent, compared to Collier County being at 10.8 percent,” Lemke said.

Lemke said people in Immokalee tend to not seek medical care until they are in dire need and the higher positivity rate could be attributed to people not seeking testing until they experience severe symptoms.

“We need to get them to call either the Department of Health or Healthcare Network [of Southwest Florida] or the other providers in the community when they start to get symptoms, not when they get really bad,” Lemke said.

The county department of health has one testing location in Immokalee and Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida providers have been providing testing in the area as well.

Lemke said plans are underway to bring more testing to Immokalee.

“There is going to be testing with the Florida National Guard within the next two weeks out here in Immokalee,” Lemke said.

Locations for additional test sites have not been finalized.


Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.