Advertisement

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. News
  2. /
  3. Health

Confused about coronavirus testing? Here’s what you need to know.

See what Florida is tracking, where testing is most prevalent and more.

Stories about the coronavirus pandemic are free to read as a public service at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to receive updates weekday mornings. If this coverage is important to you, consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com/subscribe.

• • •

Since the first coronavirus cases were found in Florida, testing has ramped up. But there are still issues, and it’s constantly changing. Read these questions to learn more about what testing looks like in the Tampa Bay area and Florida.

Q: How can I find out how many people in Florida have been tested?

A: An interactive dashboard from the Department of Health shows how many people have been tested in total, including how many are positive, how many are negative and how many are pending.

Q: What do I do if I think I need to be tested?

A: Call your doctor or the county health department if you think you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms, like a fever, shortness of breath or a dry cough. You can also call the state coronavirus call center 24/7 at 1-(866) 779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

Related: Here’s where to get tested for the coronavirus in Tampa Bay

Q: Are there enough testing kits?

A: The state has been increasing testing, but there’s a shortage of kits that limits how widespread it can be. Hillsborough County got 900 testing kits on Saturday, but still said it wasn’t enough. Jared Moskowitz, the director of the state Division of Emergency Management, said in an interview on Sunday that Florida is competing for resources against “everybody but Antarctica.”

He said they’ve ordered 1.2 million testing kits and are still placing orders to ensure they can get more.

The state has also recently partnered with private labs to expand testing.

Q: Has testing been spread evenly across the state?

A: No. Testing has been heaviest in South Florida, which is the epicenter of coronavirus in the state. After Broward and Miami Dade counties, Hillsborough has tested the most people. Moskowitz said in an interview on Sunday that everybody wants testing up and running, but because of short supply they have to focus on critical areas with proven community spread like Broward County.

During the first two weeks since a positive coronavirus case was announced in the state, the state was only testing an average of about 50 people a day.

Q: So testing hasn’t been evenly spread. What does that mean for how many cases are in the state?

A: It means the number given will continue to grow, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has said.

Q: How do we know what increase is from more testing and what is from more spread?

A: There’s not an easy way to tell. Jay Wolfson, a public health expert at USF, said because there isn’t any lockdown in Florida and people are still moving around, spread is happening. “As we test, we will pick up more of whoever it is who has it, whether they got it last week or today,” Wolfson said.

Q: What information about testing is the state releasing to the public?

A: Daily Department of Health reports include the number of people tested, positive and negative results, county-level breakdowns of test numbers, which cities positive cases have been recorded in, age and gender breakdowns, testing numbers by which lab conducted the test, and basic demographic and travel information about all positive cases.

Q: Why have asymptomatic people been getting tested?

A: Probably because of their job or position of power. The Miami mayor got tested despite showing few symptoms, but the city of Miami confirmed it got testing for elected officials and workers because of their jobs.

Q: What does a test involve?

A: A test will involve collecting an oral, nasal and saliva specimen.

Q: Who determines who can be tested?

A: The CDC sets guidelines, but the state and local health departments make the decision. Despite testing being focused on people who have traveled or who have been exposed to someone with coronavirus, a new testing location at The Villages will collect specimens from asymptomatic individuals to conduct research, according to WUSF.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

STORES REACT TO VIRUS: Some businesses adjust hours or announce temporary closings.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP: See updates and tips posts, and ask questions of our journalists.

FOLLOW OUR COVERAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Reddit.

LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporters

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips.

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement