Drive-thru COVID-19 testing reduced in Tampa Bay

Investigations

TAMPA (WFLA) – There’s a huge reduction in drive-through coronavirus testing in the Tampa Bay area as health officials are dealing with testing kit and supply shortages.

BayCare launched their drive-through services on Wednesday, March 18.

At the time, patients could get tested at seven locations from at least 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Now, just days later, three of the drive-through testing sites have shut down. BayCare has also significantly cut back the hours testing is available from eight hours a day to just three.

“We consolidated the testing sites,” said Jim Cote, Senior VP of Ambulatory Services at BayCare.

Cote stated that consolidation helps to preserve limited testing kits.

“It’s 500 each day, we had 500 on Saturday, 500 on Sunday, 500 today,” said Cote.

8 On Your Side Investigates asked BayCare what supplies it needed and where it was obtaining them.

BayCare sent 8 On Your Side the following statement:

“BayCare was one of the first to open drive-thru testing to serve our region. Nationwide, every test collection provider is seeing tightening supply lines for both testing supplies as well as personal protection equipment. BayCare‚Äôs mission is to improve the health of our community and we are constantly evaluating our options to have the most impact on our community.”

BayCare

This comes on the same day that Governor Ron DeSantis announced Florida was ramping up testing at The Villages.

“It will be a drive-through site but it’ll be tailor-made for The Villages,” said Gov. DeSantis. “This site is adding to a lot of sites that are being successfully run throughout the state of Florida.”

8 On Your Side wanted to make sure that all of Florida, including Tampa Bay was getting testing kits.

We reached out to the Department of Health, Governor’s Office and Emergency Management about the apparent cutbacks in Tampa.

Florida State Emergency Operations Center sent us this statement:

“The state is committed to supporting testing efforts statewide. The state has sent 900 testing kits to the Raymond James Stadium test site and 600 testing kits to the Manatee County Health Department. We will continue to support local areas with supplies as they become available.”

Florida State Emergency Operations Center

We’re waiting to get more information from BayCare and the state about the shipments.

We will continue to follow this story.

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