By April Rubin
Originally appeared in the Miami Herald
An eye-catching new vehicle is on the streets of Miami Beach. No, it’s not a convertible or a motorcycle, but a COVID testing truck.
Aardvark Mobile Health launched trucks designed to bring testing directly to communities, rather than making community members go out of their way for testing, said Larry Borden, CEO and founder.
The setup from truck to test site takes 15 minutes. People getting tested are separated from nurses via a glass pane.
“None of this is new,” Borden said. “We’re just pulling it together under a new umbrella to tackle a new issue.”
The first 30 minutes of testing in Miami Beach has been for first responders, and the rest of the time is walk-up.
The truck’s location is 2101 Collins Ave. through July 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will then move to the North Beach, at 73 Street and Ocean Terrace, on July 19 and continue making its rounds throughout the islands.
Miami Beach officials and residents asked the Florida Department of Emergency Management for more testing options, and they quickly set up the Aardvark truck, said Marcia Monseratt, Office of the City of Miami Beach Manager chief of staff.
“It came about as a result of our request for additional testing opportunities, and then everything happened very quickly after that,” she said. “And we’ve been able to use it throughout our community.”
About 200 people are tested in it per day. And the time process is more expedited than some of the other testing facilities that were previously available, Monseratt said. With rising cases of coronavirus in the state and area, anything helps.
Future iterations of the truck may be designed with glass panes on both sides to allow for more testing each day.
“As the City of Miami Beach, we are so grateful for the state stepping in and providing us another tool,” she said.
The mobile health company is a new division of Aardvark Mobile Tours, which provides trucks and logistics for events and companies. With large events being put on hold for the time being, Borden had the idea of re-purposing some of his vehicles to fit the needs of the current day and age.
“We just made minor modifications, and boom, we had this amazing COVID-19 testing facility,” Aardvark’s Borden said. “And it’s been wild to see the reaction we have received from government, from businesses.”
The trucks are sold to city, state and federal governments. Borden declined to say how many have started providing services in the U.S., but said their goal is setting up 500 medical trucks within the year. South Florida has one operating so far.
When the country is in the next stage of the pandemic, the trucks can be repurposed for vaccination, Borden said. And even further down the line, they can become community support vehicles to respond to natural disasters.
“The investment up front allows you to use these trucks for years to come,” he said.