Testing site at Raymond James Stadium is finally open for symptomatic residents

A large-scale COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium opened Wednesday to those who have been pre-screened and pre-approved by calling the county's hotline. 

Hillsborough County officials are hoping to test 200 people each day. So far, they only have 900 test kits. In comparison, BayCare said they've tested about 3,000 people after they opened their drive-thru testing sites last week. 

On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 100 coronavirus cases in Hillsborough County -- making it the county with the fourth-highest number of total cases after Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The drive-thru testing site at Raymond James will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, or while supplies last. It was initially scheduled to open over the weekend, but was delayed as the county tried to gather enough face masks, gowns, gloves, and other protective gear to protect the healthcare workers.

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The site is located in the parking lot south of the stadium bordered by Tom McEwen Boulevard on the north, Dale Mabry Highway to the west, and Himes Avenue to the east.

Drivers should enter from Dale Mabry Highway and Himes Avenue, and look for signs to guide them.

The site will be the first large-scale collection site in the county. As of Monday, 97 appointments were made for the first day.

"If you are asymptomatic, do not attempt to be tested. There's no value to that at all," said Nathan Waldrep, BayCare chief medical officer. "If you fudge the system and now you take up the test kit, that may be a test that your friends or loved ones need a week from now if they're in the hospital."

Patients being tested at Raymond James can expect to have their results within 5-7 days.

A testing site for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms opens at Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday, March 25. (FOX 13 News)

Here's how it works:

Residents who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call the county's main information line, 813-272-5900. The call center is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents will be asked a series of questions about their current medical condition, recent travel history and who they have been in contact with over the past two weeks to determine if a test is needed.

Callers who are determined to require COVID-19 testing will receive a confirmation by email with their scheduled time and date. This must be printed and taken to the drive-thru testing site at Raymond James Stadium.

To qualify, residents must be pre-screened and meet CDC and DOH testing guidelines and must be pre-registered through the call center.

If a resident received a testing confirmation email, they must bring the following with them to the collection site: 
•    Proper ID with name, date of birth and photo (this can be a Florida driver's license, state-issued ID, or passport)
•    Printed confirmation email from the call center

According to Hillsborough County, if a resident cannot print the confirmation email they "may be subject to longer wait times." 

Testing will be provided by appointment only.

What to bring: 

You must arrive in a personal vehicle. Due to the increased risk of contamination as well as current shortages of personal protective equipment, walk-ups are not permitted at this time.

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 for all persons being tested with name, date of birth and photo (can be Florida driver's license, state-issued ID, or passport).

Bring a printed copy of the testing confirmation email from the Hillsborough County Customer Service Center. Having this form with you will expedite the process. Residents that are unable to print their confirmation number can provide a screen shot on their phone.

You will be asked to provide the following information:
1.    Full name
2.    Current address (where you are staying)
3.    Best phone number to reach you in order to receive test results

What to expect:

You will be greeted by a health care provider in personal protective gear who will give you instructions.

You will be given a tissue to blow your nose. You will need to keep the tissue to dispose on your own.

A soft swab will be inserted deep into your nose to get the necessary sample. This may be slightly uncomfortable, but the test is quick and should take less than a minute.

Test results are not immediate. It may take several days. After the test, you will be given information on what to do while you await the results. You will receive test results via the telephone number you gave at the time of pre-screening.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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