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Pinellas coronavirus no-cost testing expands to fourth location

A new testing site in Lealman will add capacity after a bumpy first week that included long wait times and dropped calls.
Ezequiel Martinez, of Clearwater, center, administers a COVID-19 viral test using a nasopharyngeal swab on Patrice O'Brien, of Largo, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at Community Health Centers of Pinellas, 707 East Druid Road, in Clearwater where Pinellas County began COVID-19 testing on Monday. More than 400 tests were administered at the Clearwater location on Wednesday. Three testing sites, in Clearwater, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg are open M-F, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Those seeking testing can call (727) 824-8181 to make an appointment for the drive through.
Ezequiel Martinez, of Clearwater, center, administers a COVID-19 viral test using a nasopharyngeal swab on Patrice O'Brien, of Largo, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at Community Health Centers of Pinellas, 707 East Druid Road, in Clearwater where Pinellas County began COVID-19 testing on Monday. More than 400 tests were administered at the Clearwater location on Wednesday. Three testing sites, in Clearwater, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg are open M-F, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Those seeking testing can call (727) 824-8181 to make an appointment for the drive through. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published May 8, 2020

The first week of Pinellas County’s walk-up, no-cost coronavirus testing centers was rocky. There were long waits, dropped phone calls and miscommunication about when results would be ready.

To help with the massive demand, Community Health Centers of Pinellas is opening a fourth testing center in Lealman starting Monday. The site will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday each week, according to Elodie Dorso, CEO of the nonprofit. The center joins existing testing sites in Clearwater, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg.

In a statement, Dorso said Community Health Centers expects long wait times for walk-ups at the testing centers and people are encouraged to set up an appointment. Appointments can be set up by calling (727) 824-8181.

Earlier this week, residents reported problems with the testing operation. A woman who was told she was 19th in line to set up an appointment selected the choice for a return call and never heard back. A Clearwater man, availing himself of the drive-up option that was advertised, said workers at the site repeatedly asked him the same questions and he waited nearly three hours to get tested.

Dorso said the testing sites were overwhelmed on the first few days. Over three days, they tested 900 people, according to her statement.

She also thanked people for showing empathy, saying the staff felt the effects of coronavirus too.

“These public servants have stepped up to this challenge and selflessly risked their health to make sure our neighbors are taken care of throughout this unprecedented crisis,” Dorso said.

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