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Raymond James Stadium to re-open for testing

With 1,500 more test kits and nasal swabs, Hillsborough County will open the Tampa testing site again Wednesday.
Cars lined up outside of Raymond James Stadium last week for preregistered patients to get drive-thru coronavirus testing. The site will re-open to those with appointments this week Wednesday through Friday.
Cars lined up outside of Raymond James Stadium last week for preregistered patients to get drive-thru coronavirus testing. The site will re-open to those with appointments this week Wednesday through Friday. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Mar. 30, 2020
Updated Mar. 30, 2020

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TAMPA — People who are symptomatic and meet other criteria will once again be able to get tested for COVID-19 at Raymond James Stadium once the county re-opens its drive-thru testing site Wednesday.

Hillsborough County secured an additional 1,500 test kits and nasal swabs from the state, allowing officials to operate the drive-thru site for three more days — Wednesday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m.

The shortened hours are because heat was stressing workers who were required to wear protective gear, including gowns, masks and gloves, Hillsborough County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Dudley said Monday.

“That’s one of the challenges to make sure they’re okay,” Dudley said.

Medical professionals tested 900 people in the stadium parking lot last week before materials ran out.

Related: All 900 appointments for COVID-19 testing at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium booked

People cannot just drive to the site and request a test. Similar to last week, they must first call a county call center at 813-272-5900 and pre-register after meeting state and national requirements. The call center will be open Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

People can only be tested if they arrive in a personal vehicle. People who ride a bike or walk-up cannot be tested, county officials said.

Medical professionals in gowns, surgical masks and gloves will place a swab in each person’s nose to collect a sample, as they would with a flu test. The feeling is said to be mildly irritating, but not invasive or painful. Only the nose will be swabbed; nothing will be placed down the throat.

“Appointment seekers are urged to be thoughtful of others,” a statement from the county said. “Test kit supplies are low, and demand is very high across the nation. Those who fail to arrive at their designated appointment time will lose their opportunity to be tested without exception."

Related: Waiting on test results? It's taking 8 days or more to process coronavirus cases in Tampa Bay

Hillsborough County officials requested 65,000 test kits from the state, medical facilities and universities. This shipment fulfills only a small percentage of that. Cities and counties nationwide have struggled to get enough testing supplies to meet the demand.

People who miss their appointments will be required to re-register with the call center.

Individuals must have a photo ID, but do not need to show proof of insurance. They should bring a printed copy or a screen shot of the confirmation email sent from the county’s customer service center.

Test results will be received by phone, but not immediately. County officials said they may take several days. Some individuals tested at other drive-thru sites starting March 18 still have not received their results.

Raymond James Stadium drive-through testing site

Hours: 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday through Friday or until supplies run out.

Address: 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway. The site is in the parking lot south of the stadium bordered by Tom McEwen Boulevard on the north, N Dale Mabry Highway to the west and N Himes Avenue to the east. Vehicles should enter from Dale Mabry or Himes.

Requirements: You must call the Hillsborough County Customer Service Center at (813) 272-5900. Only individuals who are pre-screened, meet requirements and receive a confirmation email may be tested. People cannot just show up at the site.

Times staff writer Charlie Frago contributed to this report.

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