TAMPA, Fla. — As people return from holiday travel, Florida is seeing a significant surge in COVID-19 cases — largely due to the highly-transmissible omicron variant.
Just before the new year, the state saw its highest-ever number of COVID cases with 75,962 cases reported for Dec. 30.
And with positivity rates so high, people are rushing to testing sites around the Tampa Bay area. Tuesday was another day of long lines with people often waiting for hours to get their hands on a test.
The City of Tampa put out a notice saying that due to the high demand, COVID testing sites at Al Lopez and Al Barnes Parks may need to close their lines early to ensure that everyone in line gets tested before the sites close at 7 p.m.
As of around 3 p.m., Al Lopez had administered 1,370 COVID-19 tests and Al Barnes was at 648 tests for the day.
With more of these changes expected in the coming days, officials encouraged those looking to get tested to check with the city's social media channels to stay up to date on wait times, delays and closures.
In response to the high demand, Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, announced the state would be changing its strategy for COVID-19 testing.
Dr. Ladapo said the state will be the first to emphasize "high-value" testing versus "low-value" testing through a new plan. He used the example of an elderly grandmother given more testing consideration over an 8-year-old third grader. Ladapo said more detailed guidance would be coming soon.
This comes as both the Biden administration and the state announced plans to increase access to at-home tests.