UCF opens Lake Nona site to test for, decode COVID-19

A new COVID-19 testing site in Orange County aims to not only diagnose cases, but also decode some important mysteries about the virus.

The University of Central Florida opened up their newest drive-up testing site this week at their Lake Nona campus. The school’s doctors offer testing for COVID-19 to people referred by a doctor to the site.

The off and on rain kept their crowd small on Thursday, but researchers said they will continue to work at the site daily.

After all, they’re trying to answer questions for the patients about their individual condition as well as questions for everyone about COVID-19 itself.

"This virus is so new to us, we still have a great deal to learn,” said UCF Pathologist Dr. Jane Gibson.

Dr. Gibson’s team will use the testing site to research questions like why COVID-19’s symptoms seem to keep changing, what effects it could have on organs like the lungs, and what the antibodies it produces in the body are actually capable of.

Gibson said the antibodies are of specific interest right now as scientists try to get a better handle on the actual infection rate of the illness, and try to find out what kind of immunity those antibodies actually create.

"If you have been exposed to the virus and you have antibodies: does it mean you're protected against additional infections, and if so -- how long?” said Gibson.

Gibson said figuring out more about the illness and offering up more testing sites are especially crucial missions right now as the state and much of the country works to reopen, and looks for ways to do so safely.

Appointments at the Lake Nona site will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday through Friday in the parking lot behind UCF Lake Nona Cancer Center, 6400 Sanger Road, Orlando FL 32827. Appointments may end before 5 p.m. if the 250 daily slots are filled earlier, and patients must have a test order from a doctor.