COJ to use money from General Fund Reserves for COVID testing sites, FEMA reimbursing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In response to the demand for COVID-19 testing, the City of Jacksonville is providing additional funding to increase testing capacity at the existing city-funded sites.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole first told you about this on Tuesday.

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Today we dug deeper to learn where the additional COVID-19 funding is coming from and if it will be here in time to meet the current demand.

According to an email Cole received from COJ’s Public Affairs Media Team, the administration is using the City’s General Fund Reserves and will be reimbursed by FEMA for the $5M and those funds are available now.

Initially, city council was prepared to vote on COVID money on Tuesday, January 11, their first day back from holiday break. Typically any funding amount over $100,000 has to be approved by council.

Right now, it’s unclear why the city didn’t just decide to use money from the General Fund Reserves from the start.

Cole spoke to Mia Jones, the CEO of Agape Health.

“We don’t know what to expect, the best thing that we can do is be prepared,” Jones said.

Agape is one of the organizations that collaborate with the City and operate some of our local testing centers. She said she appreciates the city’s commitment.

“Right now on average, we are seeing daily 800 people at each site, just for testing. We went from maybe 100 each site, to 400 one day, to 800 the next day. And it has been consistent at 800,” Jones explained to Cole.

On January 11 alone more than 1,400 people were tested at their COVID-19 testing sites at Clanzel Brown and Lane Wiley Centers.

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“So what that tells us is that there is a need,” said Jones.

Jones told Action News Jax that moving forward, the biggest thing is making sure that they’re able to market and let people know they’re here.

“We’re open and we’re ready to receive them,” said Jones.

The Telescope Health Neptune Beach site and the Clanzel and Lane Wiley centers all now have contracts through this summer.

The Cuba Hunter Center and the Emmett Reed Center both have contracts that are current and will remain open for testing as well.