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Where to get a free COVID test in Tampa Bay

Free COVID-19 tests are available at public sites in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.
People wait in a line for that wraps around the West Tampa Community Resource Center to get tested for COVID-19 on Dec. 28. Tampa Bay officials are opening more free, public testing sites to meet the demand for testing as the omicron variant drives a surge of cases.
People wait in a line for that wraps around the West Tampa Community Resource Center to get tested for COVID-19 on Dec. 28. Tampa Bay officials are opening more free, public testing sites to meet the demand for testing as the omicron variant drives a surge of cases. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Dec. 30, 2021
Updated Jan. 22

The demand for COVID-19 tests is soaring along with the infection rate as the omicron variant swamps Florida.

Tampa Bay’s local governments reduced the number of free, public testing sites in favor of private providers before the holidays. Now they’ve opened several new sites to meet the record demand for testing.

Related: Florida omicron infections fall while COVID deaths rise
• • •

Public vs. private test sites

Testing at a public site is free, whether or not you have insurance. The site may bill your insurer, however. Most do not require appointments, though walk-ups may have to wait in line. Check in advance.

Private providers such as clinics, pharmacies and urgent care centers may require appointments and may treat the test as a medical appointment, adding paperwork and time to your test. They could also charge you or your insurer, so call in advance to find out the insurance and cost requirements.

Wherever you get tested, bring your ID and provide your full name, address and contact information so you can receive the test results. And wear your mask.

Note: Public sites could close early if they run out of tests. Check your county government’s social media accounts to see if they’re still open before heading there.

Related: Hillsborough to open COVID drive-thru test site at Adventure Island
• • •

How to order free at-home tests

The Biden administration has launched a website, COVIDTests.gov, that allows Americans to order free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests via the mail that can be taken at home.

The current limit is four at-home tests per residential address. They are set to start shipping at the end of January.

If you have questions this website may answer them.

Related: White House soft-launches COVID-19 test request website
• • •

Watch out for counterfeit tests

Look out for scammers offering fraudulent COVID-19 home test kits and other pandemic products, officials warn. Beware of:

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  • Unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies.
  • Any social media advertisements for COVID-19 testing.
  • Buying home test kits from street vendors or from door-to-door salespeople.
  • Clicking on questionable or unverified links offering to sell test kits.

You can report fraudulent pandemic activity to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by using myfloridalegal.com or calling 1-866-966-7226. If you have any issues with a COVID-19 testing site, contact the Agency for Health Care Administration by emailing cau@ahca.myflorida.com.

• • •

Tampa Bay’s public testing sites

Check in advance to see if the testing site is open during the New Year’s holiday weekend.

• • •

Citrus County

  • Free drive-thru testing at the Central Ridge Community Center, 77 Civic Circle, in Beverly Hills. Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, weather permitting. Call 904-295-0562 for more information. Click here to pre-register.

Click here for more information about testing in Citrus.

• • •

Hernando County

  • Free drive-thru testing at the Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville. Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, weather permitting. Appointments recommended but not required. Click here to pre-register. For questions about test results, call 904-295-0562 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Click here for non-public test sites in Hernando.

• • •

Hillsborough County

  • A free drive-thru testing site will open Monday in the parking lot of Adventure Island, 10001 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Free drive-thru testing at Al Barnes Park, 2902 N 32nd St., Tampa. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Police will close the drive-thru line at 6 p.m. Check the city of Tampa’s social media to make sure the site hasn’t closed early before heading there. Click here for more information from the city of Tampa and to pre-register.
  • Al Lopez Park, 4602 N Himes Ave., Tampa. The city of Tampa’s site is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Check the city of Tampa’s social media to make sure the site hasn’t closed early before heading there. Click here for more information from the city of Tampa and to pre-register.
  • Free drive-thru testing at Hillsborough Community College Brandon campus, 10451 Nancy Watkins Drive, Tampa. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The site can only be accessed via via E Columbus Drive. Do not use Nancy Watkins Drive.
  • Progress Village Park, 8701 Progress Blvd., Tampa. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
  • West Tampa Community Resource Center, 2103 N Rome Ave., Tampa. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Vaccinations and boosters are also available.

Click here for more information about testing in Hillsborough.

Click here for more information about testing in the city of Tampa.

• • •

Manatee County

  • Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Walk-ups welcome. Government-issued identification is required.
  • Free, public test site at 1301 Eighth Ave. W, Bradenton. Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Walk-ups welcome. Government-issued identification is required. To save time, officials ask residents to pre-register here.

Click here for more information about testing in Manatee.

• • •

Pasco County

  • Free drive-thru testing outside the old Sears at Gulf View Square Mall, 9409 U.S. 19, Port Richey. Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, weather permitting. Appointments recommended but not required. Walk-ups accepted from 3:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. Click here to pre-register. For questions about test results, call 904-295-0562 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Click here for more information about testing in Pasco.

• • •

Pinellas County

  • The Center for Health Equity, 2333 34th St. S, St. Petersburg. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays but the line will be cut off at 4:30 p.m.
  • Clearwater Y in Motion, 905 S Highland Ave., Clearwater. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
  • Greater Ridgecrest Branch YMCA, 1801 119th St. N, Largo. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Pasadena Community Church, 227 70th St. S., St. Petersburg. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. No appointment needed.
  • Pinellas County public testing site, 7150 114th Ave., Largo. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays but the line will be cut off at 4:30 p.m.
  • Free drive-thru testing at Tropicana Field, at 1 Tropicana Drive, near First Avenue S and 16th Street S, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The site entrance is located off 16th Street S. Drivers should use Third Avenue S to get there. It will be closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.

Click here for more information about testing in Pinellas.

• • •

Polk County

  • Free drive-thru testing at AdventHealth Heart of Florida hospital, 40100 U.S. 27, Davenport. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Free drive-thru testing at the Auburndale Testing and Vaccination Center, 321 Ramsgate Road, Auburndale. Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday thru Thursday. Open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fridays. Appointment required. No walk-up testing. Call 863-519-7910 to schedule a children’s appointment.
  • Free drive-thru testing at Bartow Regional Medical Center, 2200 Osprey Blvd., Bartow. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. No appointment required. No walk-up testing.
  • Free drive-thru testing at the Gil Jones Center, 3425 U.S. 17 N, Winter Haven. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. No appointment required. No walk-up testing.
  • Free drive-thru testing at Lakeland Regional Health Center, in the D-E parking garage, 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland. Open from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Appointments required. No walk-up testing. Call 863-413-5907 to schedule an appointment.
  • Free drive-thru testing at RP Funding Center, 701 W Lime St., Lakeland. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. No appointment required. No walk-up testing.
  • Pediatric testing: Lakeland Regional Health Center, Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion, 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Children must have a doctor’s order to get tested. Call 863-687-1203 for more information.

Click here for more information about testing in Polk.

• • •

Sarasota County

  • Dallas White Park, 5900 Greenwood Ave., North Port. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays.
  • Robert L. Taylor Community Complex parking lot, 1845 34th St., Sarasota. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays.
  • Free drive-thru testing at 5400 Bradenton Road, Sarasota. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Saturday. Note: Use the address 5400 Old Bradenton Road to find the site via Apple Maps.
  • Free drive-thru testing at Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. This site only uses PCR tests.
  • Free drive-thru testing at the Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S, Venice. Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday thru Saturday.

Click here for more information about testing in Sarasota.

• • •

For more information

  • For more information about COVID-19, contact the Florida Department of Health by calling 866-779-6121, emailing covid-19@flhealth.gov or visiting floridahealthcovid19.gov.
  • The health department has a website that lists testing sites but some information may be out of date.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a testing site.

• • •

How to get tested

Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find the free, public COVID-19 testing sites in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

Florida: The Department of Health has a website that lists testing sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.

The U.S.: The Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a testing site.

• • •

How to get vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and up and booster shots for everyone ages 16 and up 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.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.

• • •

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