Convention Center just part of getting coronavirus tested on Miami Beach

Though a state contract to use the Miami Beach Convention Center expired last month, city officials say local and county officials have continued to use the facility for a variety of coronavirus testing efforts.

The alternate care facility collaboration effort with the Florida Division of Emergency Management concluded in October, city spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said. The state had repurposed the facility to treat coronavirus patients with attention toward accommodating medical staff and National Guard alongside provisions including agile workspaces, access to food and shelter.

“The State of Florida is already out of the convention center,” Ms. Berthier said.

Still, coronavirus testing in the area, and the city as a whole, has steadily expanded in the face of local caseload spikes and upwards of 250,000 US fatalities. The coordinated endeavor between the state and Miami-Dade County has seen a new on-the-move testing apparatus added in the past week along with the existing methods available to area residents. Ms. Berthier said the Miami Beach offerings are a strong indicator of the city’s readiness when it comes to detecting and combating COVID-19. 

“We actually have two mobile sites now, after the state gave us an additional mobile site this week, so we haven’t missed a beat when it comes to testing. The county is operating a drive-thru and the state is covering mobile testing,” she said.

The site provided most recently is known as the Aardvark Mobile Testing Unit, performing rapid or antigen COVID-19 tests, she said. Another Aardvark terminal is administering PCR tests alongside the antigen examinations.   

These trucks, which can be converted to providing vaccines once they become available, are the result of a partnership between Florida Division of Emergency Management and Aardvark Mobile Health. There are no plans, said Ms. Berthier, to use the convention center for vaccinations.

Maria Hernandez, a project director overseeing the convention center district under the City Manager’s Office, noted the lasting availability of numerous testing methods for the public on the convention center’s site.

The Miami Beach Convention Center is also part of the city’s MB Standard program, which recognizes businesses that go above and beyond with their safety enhancements. PCR walk-up and drive-up COVID-19 testing is still available at the convention center, Hernandez said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Miami Beach Convention Center would be used as a vaccination site once the vaccine becomes available.


Andres Arias, born and raised in Miami, is currently majoring in journalism and pursuing a film studies certificate.  He is interested in pop culture and consumer technology and aspires to contribute to the body of public opinion as a critic.