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Rapid coronavirus tests are available for free at Tropicana Field

Pinellas County still recommends people get a PCR test, which takes longer to return results but is considered more reliable by experts.
Motorists wait in line in parking lot 2 at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Monday, June 29, 2020 for a  coronavirus test. Rapid testing, where results are delivered within 15 minutes, are now available at this testing site.
Motorists wait in line in parking lot 2 at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Monday, June 29, 2020 for a coronavirus test. Rapid testing, where results are delivered within 15 minutes, are now available at this testing site. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Nov. 2, 2020
Updated Nov. 2, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Fifteen-minute rapid tests are now available at Tropicana Field’s coronavirus testing site.

After a soft launch last week, the rapid tests will continue to be offered Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to a Pinellas County spokesperson.

Drive-thru or walk-up testing is free and administered on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no need to be experiencing symptoms or proof of a recent exposure to be tested. The test takes about 15 minutes and anyone taking the test will be asked to sit in the parking lot while they wait for the results, said Ashley Johnson, a spokesperson with Pinellas County.

The county recommends that people still get a polymerase chain reaction test, known as a PCR test, can take days to return results, Johnson said.

Researchers have found rapid tests are less reliable that PCR tests, especially for people without symptoms.

Masks are required at the site and there is a limit of four people per car. Negative rapid test results do not qualify as proper verification for travel or employment requirements, Johnson said. People can still receive that verification from PCR tests.

Members of the Army National Guard, who were previously assisting at the Mahaffey COVID-19 test site, are assisting with registration and logistics at Tropicana Field.

The rapid tests were sent to Pinellas County by the Florida State Department of Emergency Management through the federal government and first rolled out at Tropicana Field last week, Johnson said. The site saw an average of 473 tests a day last week.

CVS Health has also recently opened two COVID-19 testing locations in Tampa Bay where results can be returned in about 30 minutes or less. One is at 1000 East Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs and the other is at 10925 State Road 54 in New Port Richey.

Pinellas County reported 125 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the third highest number of new infections in the state. There have been 829 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the county, according to the Florida Department of Health.

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