The Florida Department of Health is conducting free walk-up and drive-up COVID-19 testing 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at New Bethel AME Church, 2122 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. It is open to all, and no doctor’s order will be needed, according to a Health Department spokeswoman.

“This will be the first time that the Health Department has coordinated any open testing for the public,” the department’s Nicole Riley told LkldNow in an email. “We will have the supplies to test 250 to 300 people on Saturday.”

It is now known yet how long it will take for results to be returned, she said.

The city of Lakeland is promoting the event on Facebook. More information is available at 863.687.1994, according to the Facebook post.

The testing resulted in part from an April 28 teleconference held by the African American Chamber of Commerce Polk County with public health experts from Polk County and Tallahassee.

During the session, Doris Bailey, president of the chamber asked, “How can we get testing in the black community northwest Lakeland?”

Joy Jackson, director of the Polk County office of the Florida Department of Health, said she would see what she could do to get it set up.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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