Thousands wait in long lines to get COVID-19 test before Christmas holiday

The holiday rush for a COVID-19 test is on as thousands wait in line throughout Tampa Bay ahead of the Christmas holiday.  

At Raymond James Stadium, the wait for a COVID test extended out into the main highway on Friday. At Tropicana Field, the lines were so long, there weren’t enough hours in the day and they had to close things down at 1:30 p.m. 

Josh Boatwright, spokesman for Pinellas County says a spike in cases is behind the high demand, along with the fact that people want to know their status before seeing a loved one.  

"We saw a similar demand for testing right before Thanksgiving as well," he said.  "I think that’s really driving a lot of people to go out and get tested whether they are symptomatic or not." 

Health experts are warning a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t necessarily mean "peace of mind." They say other precautions should be followed as well.  The CDC recommends not gathering outside of one’s immediate quarantine group.  

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Hillsborough County opened testing sites at the Vance Vogel Sports Complex in Riverview and the William Owen Pass Sports Complex in Dover to try and ease things at the Raymond James Stadium.  

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 Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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