ST. PETERSBURG — Tropicana Field will be open for drive-thru COVID-19 testing Monday, BayCare Health officials announced Friday.
The news came a day after Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters in Tampa that the state is working to expand local testing opportunities and would support BayCare with a new site at the Trop. Demand for testing has increased as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise throughout the state, with several days this week seeing reports of 5,000 or more new cases.
The downtown St. Petersburg site will replace BayCare’s drive-thru at Carillon office park which closed unexpectedly earlier this week, following complaints from nearby businesses about long car lines. The site, which had operated for 14 weeks, saw demand triple in one week, testing more than 700 in its last two days of operation.
Officials considered several sites across the county but said the Trop, which was offered as an option by the Tampa Bay Rays, provides easy access via I-275.
“We need to be sure we are doing all we can to provide Pinellas County residents the access they need to testing,” Pinellas County Administrator Barry A. Burton said in a press release.
The new site at the Trop will be open next week Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. In following weeks, the site will run Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Testing will be set up in Lot 2, on the west side of the stadium off 16th Street South. Cars will be directed to enter the drive-thru site from an entrance on 3rd Avenue South.
People will stay in their car for the entirety of the test, which involves a medical professional leaning in the window to collect a sample from the patient’s nose using a long swab. The experience is said to be short and uncomfortable, but not painful.
A doctor’s referral is encouraged. Otherwise, people will be screened on site based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Testing will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis with a daily cap based on supplies. Due to the continued challenges with COVID-19 testing supplies, the partners will regularly evaluate supply lines and adjust operations as needed, BayCare said.
For patients without insurance, the cost of the COVID-19 lab test is $85. Payment is not due at testing. BayCare is working with government agencies to secure funding for patients that are unable to pay.
Pinellas County, the City of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas County Department of Health will work to provide logistical and public safety support for the site while BayCare Health System will provide the clinical teams for the testing.
“Working together within our local community is how we will get on the other side of this global pandemic,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a news release. “With both public and private partners, we will expand access to testing which is critical to beating this virus. My thanks to all our partners for everything they are doing for the health and safety of our citizens.”
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