TAMPA, Fla. - Residents in Hillsborough County have already been struggling with long lines and technical problems and long lines while trying to get tested for COVID-19. This morning, the reservations were further delayed after news that an employee had come down with the virus.
The county issued a statement warning that the “testing reservation line must delay operations this morning” after a member of the customer service team tested positive for COVID-19.
“We are working to create a solution to assist callers as quickly as possible,” the county stated, adding that they were looking into a third-party option.
The county did not specify the employee's job function or detail what steps they were taking to mitigate further spread.
By 9 a.m., the county said the reservation system was again taking calls.
Earlier this week, members of the Emergency Planning Group questioned county technical staff after hearing reports from citizens that wait times on the phone line lasted for 30 minutes or more and calls often ended up being disconnected.
In response, the county said they were adding more call-takers to reduce the wait times and switched to a new phone line: 888-513-6321.
They were also planning to launch an online appointment site on Thursday, and they say they would try to accelerate that after the positive case this morning.
The demand for testing has increased during the recent spike in coronavirus cases. Lines formed at the Raymond James Stadium testing location earlier this week as residents showed up without an appointment.
Health officials say they want residents to make an appointment first. Showing up unscheduled slows everything down, they say, and also forces volunteers to remain in the hot sun longer than planned.
It’s not just Hillsborough. Two other testing locations had to be shut down Tuesday due to high volume.
One in Sarasota because had reached capacity by midday.
The testing site at Carillon in Pinellas County was closed because demand got so high that the lines were impacting other nearby businesses. A replacement for that site should be announced by the end of the week.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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