TAMPA, Fla. - Beginning Tuesday, as many as 1,000 people daily will be able to get tested for COVID-19 at the Raymond James Stadium testing site in Tampa.
Hillsborough County health officials announced Thursday that state officials are sending help to meet the growing demand, allowing local emergency officials to significantly increase the number of available testing appointments.
Demand for testing at the county's seven public sites has increased dramatically in the past two weeks. An online testing reservation form launched Thursday morning and was clicked on more than 6,000 times, according to a news release from Hillsborough County.
A new testing request telephone number, (888) 513-6321, was implemented this week after unprecedented call volume outstripped the technical capacity of the original line. As many as 100 call-takers are answering the new line.
Although more appointments will be available, as of Friday morning, Hillsborough County officials said that at the moment, appointments are booked up for next week, but this new state deal should provide some relief once finalized.
Officials are reminding residents to follow the process: make an appointment, and if a test result comes back positive, do not make a follow-up appointment for at least two weeks. Additionally, residents should wait for the results of a test before coming back for another test.
What to Bring:
Although pedestrians can be accommodated at some sites, it is best to arrive in a personal vehicle as the majority of the testing is conducted via drive-thru.
Each person to be tested must be seated next to a working window.
Limit vehicle passengers to those needing a test.
Have a photo ID with name and date of birth for all persons being tested (can be Florida driver's license, state-issued ID, or passport).
Bring the CORRECT confirmation code provided by the call center; this can be a printed copy of the testing confirmation email received from the call center, a screen-shot of the confirmation number, or the code may be provided verbally. A printed code or screen-shot on the phone helps the process, but is not required.
What to Expect:
You will be greeted by a health care provider in personal protective gear who will give you instructions.
A minimally invasive test will be administered.
Several factors may contribute to an inconclusive or Test Not Performed (TNP) result. Please refrain from eating or drinking for two hours prior to your appointment time. This includes chewing gum, drinking coffee or taking non-prescription oral medications. Drinking water is allowed. Following these guidelines may help mitigate inaccurate test results.
Test results are not immediate. It may take 10 days or longer for results. After taking the test, you will be given information on what to do while you await the results.
Please be patient - calling back to check on your results will not expedite the process.
Any Hillsborough County resident can request an appointment. You do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms to be tested.
As the state steps in to help beef up testing at Raymond James, Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday that increased testing is a good thing because the more asymptomatic cases that can be identified, the more the public can stop the spread from people who would not otherwise know they were positive.
Make your appointment to get tested here.