TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of new cases of COVID-19 are being detected every day in Florida and test site operators say they're seeing an incredible increase in the demand for tests.
A testing site at Tropicana Field in St. Pete closed early on its first two days after reaching capacity less than two hours after opening.
The testing site at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is seeing lines that stretch hundreds of cars long, with people waiting sometimes more than an hour.
"Really, you should be in and out of here within three to four minutes," said Jon-Paul Lavandeira, the task force leader for Hillsborough County's COVID-19 test sites.
Lavandeira says because there's an increase in demand for the tests, people are showing up to test sites without appointments, increasing wait times and crowding out people who have made reservations.
"When people do that, we have to manually take down their data, transfer it manually and then put it into a computer, while the sun is bearing down on our medical professionals in full PPE," said Lavandeira. He says there's no shortage of tests in Hillsborough County, the problem is personnel.
Lavandeira says nurses and medical professionals who are usually working in clinics and hospitals are working at the county's test sites between shifts. This limits the amount of time county-run test sites can operate.
To limit the long lines, Lavandeira suggests anyone fortunate enough to have insurance explores other options for testing first.
"We're open to everyone, there's no limit to that. We're treating everyone we can, but if someone has the ability to be able to get that [testing] through the private industry through another means and for something that's more convenient to them, by all means, there's no inhibition toward that."
Many insurance plans will cover COVID-19 testing at no cost. You can get tested at a chain pharmacy, several urgent care clinics and some state department of health locations.
We've rounded up COVID-19 testing options for you:
You can find testing information at Hardee County Emergency Management's Facebook page.
Free drive-up testing for Hardee County will be 8:30-10:30 a.m. June 30 and July 1. Pre-registration is required. To register, call 863-773-4161.
You can find COVID-19 testing information in Hernando County here.
There is currently no testing site information at this time. Contact the health department for more information.
Find state-supported testing sites in Manatee County here.
Find additional testing site information in Manatee County on the county's website here.
Find state-supported testing sites in Pasco County here.
Find additional current COVID-19 testing sites in Pasco County here.
Find COVID-19 testing site information in Pinellas County here.
Find COVID-19 drive-thru testing information through the Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc. here.
Find COVID-19 testing site information for Polk County on Florida Medical Association's website here.
Find state-supported COVID-19 testing site information for Sarasota County here.
Find additional COVID-19 testing site information for Sarasota County here.
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