Less than two months after hosting the Super Bowl, the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens is now the home to a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site opened by the Florida National Guard.
On Sunday, March 22, they began testing first responders and health care workers. The next day, they planned to expand testing to people at least 65 years old who are showing symptoms of the illness. A testing center at Marlins Park will also open in the coming days, officials said.
In Florida, 19 people have died from the coronavirus, including the first fatality in Palm Beach County. Nearly half of the state’s positive cases are in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stressed that the results should not cause undue concern.
“The vast, vast majority of people are testing negative for this,” DeSantis said at a press conference Sunday, March 22 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
First responders have served as front-line foot soldiers in the pandemic war, and one local health center is doing their part to help them stay strong while fighting to contain the coronavirus pandemic in South Florida.
HealthGAINS encourages first responders in the area to be vigilant and utilize their B-12 injection service as a preventative measure against the virus.
A medically supervised age — management facility in Aventura, HealthGAINS is offering free B-12 injections to Miami-Dade and Broward County first responders until the end of March.
As a former first responder for three years in Brevard County, Jay Mendiola, HealthGAINS wellness adviser, said the situation at hand with first responders combating the COVID-19 outbreak hits close to home.
“I can only imagine what they are going through right now,” said Mendiola. “With this added stress comes a suppressed immune system and your energy levels are lower.”
Mendiola is one of the health center’s staff administering the B-12 injections. Having just launched this particular service last week, he estimates somewhere around eight to 12 first responders have received the shots.
The benefits of these injections include a boost in energy and immune system health, described HealthGAINS director Jeremy Edwards.
“We’re trying to support them in a way that can not only help them medically in terms of boosting their immune system functions and helping improve their energy levels and stress levels,” said Edwards.
“But also trying to make them feel that their work is valued and we’re grateful for it. These guys are in the trenches out there so we’re here to let them know that there are people supporting them.”
HealthGAINS said that research and data has shown the benefits of B-12 injections on the body and immune system including its help with the formation of red blood cells, improving cognitive function and aiding stress management-- all of which are relevant and important to anyone on the front lines.
The friendly and supportive staff members at HealthGAINS want to spread the word of their services to ensure all first responder personnel which includes law enforcement, fire rescue, EMS workers and more get the treatment they deserve during this time.
“As a company, we understand we might not be able to directly help all of the people affected, but we’re working to help those who can,” said Mark White, CEO of HealthGAINS. “We’re here to help our community and be a beacon of hope for the future.”
Due to privacy concerns, first responders receiving injections on-site declined to be interviewed or photographed.
The injections are available Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To schedule an appointment, you can contact the health center at 305-912-8828, or visit their website, http://www.healthgains.com.