Not even the storied pavement of Daytona International Speedway is beyond the reach of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Friday, the speedway opened as the first drive-thru testing site in its home of Volusia County, Florida.
The testing site will be able to handle 500 patients a day, according to ClickOrlando. The site will be running seven days a week, and will be open until they run out of testing materials. A previous testing site in nearby Orange county closed after using testing materials meant for days in mere minutes.
It’s not like the track would see much action. The Daytona 500 occurred back in February, a month before NASCAR canceled or postponed races. NASCAR postponed seven Cup Series races and currently has plans to restart racing May 9 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The next time NASCAR is scheduled to hold a Cup Series race at Dayton would be the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in August. Hopefully, the outbreak is more under control by then, but many experts expect this may not be the case.
The numbers out of Florida are not great. As of yesterday, almost 18,000 people tested positive for the virus and 419 of those cases proved fatal since March 1. Every county in Florida now has a case of coronavirus, ClickOrlando reports.
Florida’s governor has faced criticism for not doing more to slow the spread of the virus in the early days of the outbreak. While other governors were shutting down schools and non-essential businesses Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis was leaving the decision up to local leaders. This lead to crowded beaches and spring break festivities that have only fanned the flame of the outbreak not just in Florida, but around the country as partying college kids carried the virus home, the New York Times reports. Now the state is scrambling to get ahead of a growing outbreak. DeSantis eventually ordered Floridians to stay home April 1. Florida is now in the top ten worst-affected states, according to NPR.
Daytona isn’t the only racetrack being pressed into service in the fight against COVID-19. Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina became the first professional sports venue in America to be repurposed for coronavirus testing on March 24, according to NBC Sports.