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TAMPA — Drive-through testing for COVID-19 has been available in Tampa Bay for more than a week now, but where and when to go changes almost daily as supplies fluctuate.
Hillsborough County opened and closed a community testing site at Raymond James Stadium within 54 hours this week after quickly using 900 test kits provided by the state. The good news is more tests for the coronavirus are on the way.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is sending 1,000 more test kits to the county. It’s a small percentage of the 15,000 the county requested, but it will allow officials to reopen the testing site at the stadium. It’s unknown when those tests will arrive.
Meanwhile, BayCare Health Systems, which has operated anywhere from three to seven test sites across the bay area daily since March 18, is also adjusting its offerings. BayCare is closing its three remaining sites over the weekend “to align resources, including medical supplies,” the healthcare provider said in a statement Friday evening.
That means it is unlikely people will have a drive-through option for testing on Saturday. Instead, they’ll likely have to wait until Monday at the earliest when BayCare says it will reopen its sites at 9 a.m. The county has not yet said when the Raymond James will reopen.
BayCare anticipates offering drive-through testing for at least five more days, but officials will make the decision on a day-to-day basis based on supplies and other considerations. The healthcare provider says it tested more than 5,250 people in 10 days.
Results for those who were tested have started to come back, BayCare said, but not nearly as quickly as expected.
“Originally expected to take about five days to be returned, results from private laboratories have increased several days as the volume of testing nationwide has grown,” said a statement from BayCare.
Raymond James Stadium test site
Hours: TBA; likely next week when a shipment of 1,000 test kits arrive from the state.
Location: Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa
Requirements: You must call the county’s main information line at (813) 272-5900 to complete a virtual screening ahead of time. Only patients who meet certain criteria and receive a confirmation email will be authorized to go to the Raymond James site. The test is free.
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BayCare Health Systems drive-through test sites
Hours: 9 a.m. to noon, starting Monday.
- Pinellas: BayCare Urgent Care, 900 Carillon Parkway, Suite 106, St. Petersburg.
- Pasco: BayCare Urgent Care, 4821 U.S. 19, New Port Richey.
- Polk: BayCare Urgent Care, 36245 U.S. 27, Haines City.
Requirements: A doctor’s referral is encouraged. In order to get tested, a person must currently have a fever, a cough or shortness of breath and meet one of these additional requirements:
- Traveled internationally or on a cruise.
- Traveled to or from California, Washington, Oregon or New York. These are areas of widespread community transmission.
- Had personal close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
- Must be 65 or older with a serious chronic health condition, such as heart disease or cancer.
- They are considered immunocompromised.
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