STORY OF THE WEEK: Panama City Beach Sports Complex Hosts Local Medical Group for COVID-19 Testing


While many sports facilities remain closed for their primary purpose of hosting events, programming, and general recreation, some SFM Network venues have opened their campuses for purposes to support the global pandemic situation. Joining the likes of Cedar Point Sports Center and Hoover Metropolitan Complex, Panama City Beach Sports Complex was host to testing for COVID-19 last week. On Tuesday May 13th, the venue opened their parking lots to become the first free COVID-19 mobile testing site in Bay County, FL. No appointments or pre-registration was necessary.

The Florida Department of Health established a goal to test two percent of the population as a part of the state’s phase one re-opening strategy beginning May 4.

“We are excited to lift testing criteria restrictions and bring testing to Panama City Beach to achieve the goal of reaching two percent of the population”, said Sandon S. Speedling, MHS, CPM, CPH, Administrator and Health Officer, DOH-Bay.

No symptoms were required for this free drive through nasal swab testing, which was open to anyone aged 18 years and older. Passengers remained inside their vehicles from arrival to departure, and were asked to limit the number of people in the vehicle to a maximum of five.

“Visit Panama City Beach and the Panama City Beach Sports Complex are committed to work with public health and safety officials anytime we face significant challenges, whether a storm event or a pandemic”, said Dan Rowe, President & CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The second phase of development at the Sports Complex includes an indoor event center to help serve our community’s emergency response needs.”

When the team with the Florida Department of Health finished their day, they reported that they had administered 309 tests. Residents were conservatively advised they would receive results within 5 business days. Those who may have missed this opportunity still have two additional opportunities available, both at different locations.

“When we first learned of the opportunity to become one of several free COVID testing sites in Bay County, we were grateful”, said Jamie Cox, General Manager of the Panama City Beach Sports Complex. “It’s always been a priority of ours to serve our community in every way possible. We were incredibly impressed by the tremendous hard work and dedication from the entire team with the Florida Department of Health in Bay County. It was rewarding to have been a small part of the effort, and we look forward to more opportunities to serve our community in the future.”

Panama City Beach Sports Complex remains closed to the public until further notice. For more information on this venue and to stay up-to-date on their plans to re-open, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.