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Drive-thru patient testing for the coronavirus is not about convenience. It’s about safety.

For now, Citrus County is without the service.

During drive-thru testing patients can usually remain in their vehicle and health care professionals take sample specimens using test kits. The procedure means patients don’t have to come to waiting rooms and hospitals were others are also sick and risk exposure.

Ocala and The Villages offer it. So does Manatee and Orange County.

Rainbow River Medical, on Robinson Road in Dunnellon, continues to offer drive-thru testing for patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 as test kits remain available.

But thus far not in Citrus County. Officials at the Department of Health in Citrus County told the Chronicle they are working on it, but much of decision is based on the number of test kits available.

“The Florida Department of Health in Citrus County has been working with our community partners to determine the most effective way to offer a drive-thru testing site in Citrus County,” said Audrey Stasko, spokeswoman for DOH in Citrus County.

“DOH-Citrus and its community partners are considering options that will ensure the health, safety and welfare of the community, whether it be through one large-scale site or numerous sites within the county,” she added.

As supplies become available, Stasko said, the local health department will continue to work closely with local medical facilities to make testing available to symptomatic individuals who meet the expanded CDC criteria and/or individuals who’s doctors request testing.

“The Florida Division of Emergency Management is working diligently to fulfill all supply requests within the state," Stasko said. "However, priority is given to counties with the highest need."

As of Thursday morning, Citrus County had performed 113 tests and has 11 known infections.

In Marion County, 350 tests were performed by Thursday morning with five positives and nearly 150 test results pending.

Manatee County had performed 204 tests with 24 positive cases.

Orange County performed 1,397 tests with 110 positive and four deaths.

Contact Chronicle reporter Fred Hiers at fred.hiers@chronicleonline.com or 352-397-5914.

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