COVID-19 testing sites in Bay Area work to accommodate demand post-Thanksgiving

With cases on the rise and travelers returning from Thanksgiving trips, Bay Area testing officials are expanding operations at some test sites to keep up with demand. 

Drive-through testing at Ruth Eckard Hall in Clearwater will now be available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Testing is free, but those looking to get tested for the coronavirus must meet CDC guidelines. 

Healthcare workers at the Clearwater testing site say the volume of daily patients doubled and sometimes tripled on certain days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday

Sites across the Tampa Bay region saw a similar surge in demand as well. Thousands waited for hours to get tested before seeing friends and family on Thanksgiving. Beyond the status check, however, many are being tested after experiencing symptoms or being exposed to the virus, which is once again on the rise in Florida.  

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Disease experts are now bracing for another surge in cases because of holiday travel and Thanksgiving gatherings. 

Florida, which trails just behind California and Texas for the most positive cases in the country, is expected to record its millionth coronavirus case early this week.  

While the numbers aren't currently as grim as Florida's summertime surge, health experts worry that's where things are headed. On Friday, Florida reported 17,344 new cases after not reporting case numbers on Thanksgiving Day. The average positivity rate in Florida has also crept up to nearly 8% and hospitalizations are once again on the rise.

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Health experts are urging those who traveled or celebrated Thanksgiving with those from outside their household to monitor themselves for symptoms and not to hesitate to get tested and quarantine. Early detection can play a pivotal role in Covid-19 treatments, which are typically most effective when started in the early stages of illness.