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New drive-thru COVID-19 testing site launches at Tropicana Field, fills up quickly on first day

The site opened at 7 a.m. and was closed about an hour later after it reached capacity.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — People living in Pinellas County have a new coronavirus testing site starting Monday.

Tropicana Field in downtown St. Petersburg will host a drive-thru testing operation starting June 29. The site is operated by the county Department of Health, the city of St. Petersburg and BayCare Health Systems, which will provide the medical teams.

From June 29 through July 2, the site will be open 7-11 a.m. It will be closed July 3 to observe Independence Day weekend.

Beginning the following week, starting July 6, the drive-thru site will be open 8-11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The new testing site quickly reached capacity on Monday, and was shut down about an hour after it opened, Baycare said. The site will reopen Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.

"Working together within our local community is how we will get on the other side of this global pandemic,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “With both public and private partners, we will expand access to testing which is critical to beating this virus. My thanks to all our partners for everything they are doing for the health and safety of our citizens."

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The Tropicana Field site opens a week after BayCare closed its operation at the Carillon office complex in north St. Pete. The site had been running for 14 weeks, but saw triple the demand in a week, which caused traffic problems for surrounding businesses.

BayCare said the site tested more than 700 people in its last two days of operation.

The Tropicana Field drive-thru site will use Lot 2 on the west side of the ballpark off 16th Street South. Cars will be directed into the site from an entrance on 3rd Avenue South.

“We so appreciate that the Tampa Bay Rays embraced this idea and are joining us to serve the community,” Jim Cote, senior vice president for BayCare Ambulatory Services said Friday. “From the very beginning of this pandemic, we’ve known that a key requirement of fighting this virus would be making sure individuals have access to testing to confirm whether they have it.”

Those looking to get tested are encouraged to bring a referral from a doctor. Those who do not bring a referral will be screened based on CDC guidelines.

Testing will be first-come, first-served with a daily cap based on available supplies.

BayCare also operates testing sites in Polk and Pasco counties and is helping a drive-thru site at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

RELATED: Pinellas County leaders say they need 'help from the state now' after spike in coronavirus cases, testing sites getting overwhelmed

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