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County leaders say mass COVID-19 vaccination sites would help, but they'd need state resources

While they wait for more guidance, officials say it's likely testing sites that are converted won't offer vaccinations and testing at the same time.

TAMPA, Fla — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues looking for ways to speed up people getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

"It's crunch time. I'm ordering the Division of Emergency Management to work with the Department of Health to identify state-run testing sites that can be converted into vaccine sites," DeSantis said during a press conference Monday in Orlando.

RELATED: Governor DeSantis announces plans to continue Florida's 'aggressive approach' to vaccine rollout

Only some state-run testing sites will be converted into spots where those who qualify can get the shot. In Tampa Bay, both sites at Raymond James and Tropicana Field are potential options. 

"I haven't heard anything about mass testing sites. I think that's one of those things we'll just hear one day, maybe in a governor's press release," Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard said.

Gerard says local governments have gotten little to no information from the state, but they're trying to be as efficient as they can.

"We haven't gotten enough information since March. I mean, frankly, we've never gotten enough information on anything the state is rolling out," Gerard said.

Having a mass vaccination site in Pinellas County would help vaccinate the 240,000 seniors that live there, but county leaders say they'd need more staff to run the site. They can't do it alone.

"We need information about what our resources are going to be. How many doses are we going to get? What kind of vaccine? Does it need to kept frozen? All kind of stuff. I mean there are a lot of logistics to it. Will there be any support from the state financially to do some of this," Gerard said.

Over in Hillsborough County questions still remain, but officials with the county's Department of Health say if the site is converted, it won't offer vaccinations and testing at the same time.

While counties wait for guidance, DeSantis is also making sure hospitals are getting the shots out as quickly as possible. 

"We do not want the vaccine to be idle at some hospital system. If they're exceeding their targets and there's other hospitals that are not moving the vaccine, then we will up their allotment and reduce them at those that aren't getting the shots in the arms," DeSantis said.

So far, Advent Health and BayCare hospitals in Tampa Bay say they're using the shipments of Pfizer and Moderna they were given. They continue waiting for more shipments and are committed to supporting community vaccinations.