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BayCare to start drive-through coronavirus testing, but it’s not for everyone

At least for now, you won’t be tested unless you meet specific criteria from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A nurse at a drive-up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington Medical Center uses a swab to take a sample from the nose of a person in a car last week. In Tampa Bay, the BayCare Health System said Tuesday it will offer a similar drive-through service starting Wednesday, but only for people who meet certain criteria.
A nurse at a drive-up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington Medical Center uses a swab to take a sample from the nose of a person in a car last week. In Tampa Bay, the BayCare Health System said Tuesday it will offer a similar drive-through service starting Wednesday, but only for people who meet certain criteria. [ TED S. WARREN | Associated Press ]
Published Mar. 17, 2020

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BayCare Health System announced Tuesday it will begin operating drive-through testing areas at seven locations across Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

The testing is not available for the general public and is limited to those who meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing criteria. The criteria limit testing to patients who have been determined as high risk for coronavirus by a doctor because of travel history or direct contact with someone who has tested positive qualify for this service.

The criteria may be expanded in the future as more testing supplies become available, according to a news release.

Patients of BayCare facilities who have been instructed by their physicians to be tested for COVID-19 can be tested without leaving their cars.

“This will allow us to test more people more efficiently and safely,” BayCare’s chief medical officer, Dr. Nishant Anand, said in a statement. “As state and federal authorities make more testing supplies available, our capacity can increase. BayCare is committed to maximizing what tools we have to serve our communities and we hope to see this concept expand in the future.”

The seven locations will be available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Patients can be directed to the drive-through testing from in-person appointments with physicians or through virtual appointments on the BayCare Anywhere telemedicine app.

Patients will move through three stations at the drive-through centers, all while remaining in their car. There they can be tested for COVID-19 but also other respiratory illnesses. BayCare health professionals will be wearing protective equipment like gowns, masks and gloves.

Test results take two to four days to receive, the news release said. Positive results will be forwarded to the CDC for confirmation and shared with the Florida Department of Health.

Tampa General Hospital and AdventHealth hospitals are also working to deploy similar centers.

“AdventHealth is among the many health care agencies in the Tampa Bay area working with city and county leaders to set up drive through testing sites,” said Richelle Hoenes, spokeswoman for AdventHealth in the Tampa Bay Area. “We are working to reduce the burden on emergency departments and provide expanded access to testing in our community.”

The BayCare drive-through testing centers will be open at these locations:

  • 900 Carillon Parkway, Suite. 106, St. Petersburg
  • 4821 U.S. Highway 19, New Port Richey
  • 3351 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater
  • 3440 W Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa
  • 17512 Dona Michelle Drive, Suite 5, Tampa
  • 2442 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico
  • 36245 U.S. Highway 27, Haines City, FL 33844

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