Tampa Bay officials are opening new public testing sites that will offer free COVID-19 tests in the city of Tampa and in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to address the high demand driven by the surging omicron variant.
Hillsborough County on Thursday will open its second public testing site at Progress Village Park, 8701 Progress Blvd. in Tampa. It will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. But this week it will be closed Friday and Saturday for the New Year’s holiday.
Pinellas County on Thursday will open its second public testing site at 7150 114th Ave. in Largo. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The line will be cut off at 4:30 p.m., however. The site will be closed Friday and Saturday for the New Year’s holiday, then resume operations on Sunday.
The city of Tampa on Friday will reopen its public testing site at Al Lopez Park, 4602 N Himes Ave. The site will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. It will stay open during the New Year’s holiday.
The new sites will remain open until further notice. Hillsborough will also open two temporary sites from Friday through Sunday in anticipation of high demand over the holiday weekend.
The temporary sites are the Lee Davis Community Resource Center, 3402 N 22nd St. in Tampa, and the Plant City Community Resource Center, 307 N Michigan Ave. in Plant City. Both will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although each site has a limited supply of 1,000 tests per day. Officials ask residents to monitor Hillsborough County social media to check if the sites have run out of tests.
The new openings add badly needed testing capacity to the Tampa Bay region. Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties each had just one public testing site operating through the Christmas holiday.
Hillsborough County’s other public testing site is at the West Tampa Community Resource Center, 2103 N Rome Ave., which is also open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Vaccinations and boosters can also be obtained at this site. Neither site requires appointments.
Pinellas County’s other test site is at the Center for Health Equity, 2333 34th St. S in St. Petersburg. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, but the line will be cut off at 4:30 p.m.
Pasco County has a drive-through testing site located outside the former Sears at Gulf View Square Mall, 9409 U.S. 19 in Port Richey. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, weather permitting. Appointments are recommended but not required. Walk-ups are accepted from 3:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In recent days, the West Tampa and St. Petersburg sites have seen long lines of people waiting to get tested. In Tampa, the line often curled around the building as people wait to get tested because of possible exposures or to be safe ahead of holiday events. On Wednesday, the testing site at the Center for Health Equity began turning people away at 3 p.m. because of too many people in line, a Pinellas health department spokesperson confirmed.
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Other testing sites throughout the state have also seen increased demand in recent weeks, in part because of the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant.
In November, Hillsborough officials shut down the testing and vaccination site at Progress Village and the testing site at the Code Enforcement Complex in North Tampa as demand slowed. Tampa officials also shut down the Al Lopez test site that month.
Public testing sites offer free COVID testing. You do not need to provide proof of insurance to be tested at those sites, but your insurer may still be billed.
Local pharmacies, urgent care clinics and other providers also offer coronavirus tests. Costs for tests and office visits may vary.
Times staff writer Christopher Spata contributed to this report.
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The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and up and booster shots for eligible recipients are being administered at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and public vaccination sites. Many allow appointments to be booked online. Here’s how to find a site near you:
Find a site: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your zip code.
More help: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline.
Phone: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.
Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.
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