When the COVID-19 testing site at Hard Rock Stadium opened March 23, it was among the first state-run testing centers to set up shop in Miami-Dade. Since then, the site has conducted more than 100,000 tests.
For the first time since the pandemic shut down sporting events, the stadium opened its doors to fans last Thursday for the University of Miami's home opener against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. And next Sunday, 13,000 fans will be allowed to attend the Miami Dolphins' home opener against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock.
Football games at the stadium will bring some testing disruptions. According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM), the testing site will close all day to accommodate midday games. On days when games will be played at night, testing will be conducted for the first half of the day.
"The site will immediately reopen, with normal hours of operations, the day following a game," DEM press secretary Samantha Bequer writes in an email to New Times. "These closure decisions are due to Hard Rock Stadium traffic patterns."
The testing site is typically open seven days a week. The Florida Association of Public Information Officers tweeted that on Friday afternoon — a day after the Hard Rock site was closed for "site reconfiguration completion" and to accommodate the Hurricanes game — the wait time for testing was two hours.
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Bequer says the testing site was reconfigured to provide better traffic flow because the site has expanded over time to offer antibody and rapid testing in addition to the more traditional PCR tests. Hard Rock can conduct up to 1,200 tests daily and has averaged as many as 1,113 tests per day.
During a press conference last week, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez urged county residents to get tested for COVID, especially if they gathered with friends or relatives over the Labor Day weekend.
"We continue to see a downturn in our COVID-19 infection rate and hospitalizations, so that's really good news," the mayor said. "We cannot get complacent."