City of St. Augustine opens free solar-powered COVID-19 testing site on Thursday

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — As the demand for COVID-19 testing increases the City of St. Augustine is hoping to make it a little easier to find a test.

On Thursday, the city of St. Augustine, Flagler Health, and Ivy medical partnered together to make sure people can get access to free COVID-19 testing.

They opened a testing site at the bus loop on West Castillo Drive, outside the visitor center which the city says makes it easy for people to get in and out. And the unique thing about this testing site is it’s completely solar-powered.

“They’re pulling between 100 and 200 watts. This system with no recharge can run what they’re pulling anywhere between 4 days and a week without any additional input,” George Winsten, a program manager with Solar Stik said.

Winsten told me the City of St. Augustine recently reached out to his company for help.

“St. Augustine’s been really good to us and they made a call to Solar Stik and said hey we’re setting up this site we need power,” he said.

Right now, two solar arrays are charging four batteries and keeping this site going so staff can continue to give out tests.

“The most important thing is we got to get people back to work and then, of course, many employers require a negative covid test to get back to work,” St. Augustine City Manager John Regan said.

Regan said time off from work means loss of income which really hurts an area like St. Augustine.

“As a tourism economy, we see it in our business community because so many businesses are closing early. They’re not opening due to a lack of a workforce,” Regan said.

Winsten said he’s just happy to help his community any way he can.

“We have a big commitment to American manufacturing. We build all the stuff right here in St. Augustine so we’re passionate about powering stuff like this and other city needs that can help out,” Winsten said.

The testing site is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.The city is asking that you download the Flager Health App to register for an appointment and while this is a drive-thru site, the city said walk-ups are welcome.