Jose Duque, a medic for 21 years in the U.S. Army, is certainly familiar with needles.
“I used to do this,” he told Anthony Petrovich, a phlebotomist working in the Hester Building at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. “You’re good. I didn’t feel a thing.”
“Thank you,” Mr. Petrovich said.
When asked how many blood draws he has done in the past few days, he said, “I couldn’t even tell you I’ve done so much.”
Hundreds and soon to be thousands have flocked to the Volusia County Fairgrounds to do their part in helping fight Covid-19, said Laurie Asbury, CEO of Family Health Source in Volusia County.
Since May 4, Ms. Asbury has brought together a team – 86 of her staff, 13 phlebotomists, doctors, advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants and law enforcement – to assist in antibody testing.
Testing is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, until May 22. There is no cost for the test, but it is being properly submitted through insurance companies, if the person is insured.
In just four days, more than 2,200 people have been tested in the Hester Building at the fairgrounds.
“What’s important with this if they do have an immunity, they are able to donate plasma for those who are currently sick with the virus,” Ms. Asbury said.
“There’s a lot of people who want to help – they didn’t get sick, they didn’t have symptoms, that way they can help someone else,” she said. “They provide the antibodies that that person needs to fight the virus.”
Mr. Duque and his wife, Awilda, are DeLand residents. He said he decided to come out for the test after talking to his pastor.
“I want to feel safe, ease my stress about it, my fear,” he said. “I want to help, too.”
Amy German, 50, and her husband, Patrick, came from Daytona Beach to be tested. She said she and her husband were in New York City in January, February and March. They travel back and forth from New York to Florida.
“I remember being sick in January. It was like the flu,” she said. “I just want to find out if we had it or not, and I want to help other people.”
To be tested, people must not have any symptoms of the virus, such as coughing or a fever, Ms. Asbury said. One tube of blood is drawn for the Serology test and then given to LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics.
At this point, “the labs are picking up three times a day,” she said.
Ms. Asbury said once it is determined if the person has the antibodies, they then have the option of donating their plasma. She said CFL in Orange City has partnered with Family Health Source, which has clinics in DeLand, Daytona, Deltona and Pierson.
This is not Ms. Asbury’s first experience in regards to Covid-19 at the fairgrounds. She and her team came together April 6 to 24 and took swabs of those who had symptoms of Covid-19. She said about 3,000 swabs were taken and sent to the Volusia County Department of Health.
“From the reports that we received, we have had, so far, 29 come in positive,” she said. “There are a few remaining tests that are still running. There might be some that are still going through.”
Family Health Source, a federally funded nonprofit, has been around since 2004.
“We identify ways that we can assist the public in a pandemic,” Ms. Asbury said. “We were on top of it. What we needed to do was to adapt to the pandemic, and that’s what we have done.”