People walking Many without cars in South Florida, have not been able to be tested.
Image via Shutterstock

Most people that live in densely populated areas and are considered “essential” workers are in dire need of walk-up sites to get tested.

As South Florida remains a hot zone for the novel coronavirus, with Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties accounting for more than half of the state’s confirmed cases of COVID-19, some communities remain underserved when it comes to testing for the illness that so far has claimed 1,399 lives in Florida.

That is in large measure because in Miami-Dade alone more than 90,000 households don’t own or have access to a car, according to a study conducted by Transit Alliance Miami, a nonprofit organization advocating for better public transit in Miami-Dade County.

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The organization’s brief shows that Miami-Dade’s lowest-income areas have the least access to cars. These include parts of Flagami, Little Havana and Hialeah. The problem is compounded when taking into account that these are densely populated areas, which can mean there is a higher risk of exposure to the virus.  

This map shows the areas where an estimated 90,000 households don’t own or have access to a car.

In addition, many people who live in these highly populated areas are also considered “essential” workers — grocery store employees, health home aids, delivery persons — who mostly rely on public transportation, which can make them more susceptible to the virus as they traverse the city to get to and from work every day.

“If we’re going to get out of this [crisis], we need to start thinking about more widespread testing for people without vehicles,” Azhar Chougle, executive director of Transit Alliance Miami told the Miami Herald.

Antonio Rodriguez, who works in a video store in Little Havana, is one of the 90,000 county residents cited in the report who don’t own a car. He agrees that not owning a car has put a damper in his job options and forced him to turn down many opportunities because “it can be complicated to get to point A and then to B and finally to C on public transport.” But being without a car has also made being tested for COVID-19 difficult, if not impossible. At this time, most testing venues in the county “leave out those who don’t have a vehicle,” he says.

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A Call for Action

Believing that lack of car ownership should not keep a single person from being tested for COVID-19, Transit Alliance Miami and other local groups sent a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting to make testing more easily available to vulnerable populations in the county. Among their recommendations were more walk-up testing sites and mobile testing in neighborhoods with fewer cars.

“All residents — regardless of age, ability, socioeconomic background, and legal status — [should have] have access to proper preventive medical care at this pivotal moment,” the letter said in part.

But at this time South Florida only has two walk up testing sites in Broward and one in Miami Dade county, with the promise of more to come. There is, however, in-home testing available in certain areas for people who qualify.

Where to Get Tested without a Car

  • Walk up testing center in Miami-Dade:

Holy Family Catholic Church 14500 N.E. 11 Avenue North Miami. (305) 499-8767

  • In-home testing in Miami-Dade:

Coral Gables Fire Rescue offers at-home testing for seniors and homebound residents with disabilities, aged 18 or older. t (305) 460-5401.

Home testing is available in Hialeah for symptomatic seniors age 65 and older, as well as residents with disabilities age18 and older. They must have no other means to reach a testing center. (305) 863-2950.

City of Miami Fire Rescue offers free in-home testing to homebound seniors age 65 or older. (305) 960-5050,

Miami Beach In-Home Testing for adults 65 and older who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. (305) 604-2489.

  • Walk-up centers in Broward:

Mitchell Moore Park. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can be tested. Face covering is required. To make an appointment call: (954) 412-7302.

Urban League of Broward county. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can be tested. Face covering is required. Appointments are preferred. (954) 412-7302.