Floridians report problems getting tested for coronavirus

Investigations

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As Florida continues to report daily spikes in coronavirus cases, more people either want or need to take a COVID-19 test. In some cases, the increase in demand is making it difficult to even schedule an appointment.

8 On Your Side is continuing to expose testing troubles.

Drivers were lined up outside a Pinellas County test site on Monday morning. One day earlier, in Sarasota County, Emergency Services tweeted the state-run test site at the Mall at University Town Center had reached maximum capacity.

Angelina St. Jean lives in Brandon in Hillsborough County.

“Getting the appointment was hairy,” said St. Jean.

St. Jean said it took her two and a half days just to schedule a COVID-19 test.

“I called my primary physician who said ‘hey, we’re having issues too…they’ve closed some of the sites that we’re recommending our patients to go to visit,'” St. Jean said. “So I called the urgent care, and they said you have to have an appointment and you don’t meet the criteria.”

8 On Your Side has heard about different testing barriers across the Tampa Bay region. But in recent days, there have been more complaints about Hillsborough County.

8 On Your Side could not get through to the county call center on Monday morning to set up an appointment.

On Facebook, the county posted the following message:

As many residents call (813) 272-5900 to create a COVID-19 testing reservation, our phone lines are reaching capacity. In this instance, callers will receive a message prompting you to try your call again at a later time. Additionally, callers may experience audio delays when being connected to agents on the test scheduling team. As our team works on expanding our call-taking capacity, we appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”

Commissioner Kimberly Overman represents the county’s 7th district. She says the highest volume of calls is on Monday and Thursday mornings.

The county is swiftly working to fix the issues with the call center.

“I know they’re hiring additional people, they have redeployed county employees from other areas of the county to answer the calls,” Commissioner Overman said. “It doesn’t mean give up, it’s critically important you get tested.”

Public health officials are urging Floridians to get tested in order to contain this virus.

In the end, St. Jean was able to get a test at her local pharmacy. She’s currently waiting for her results.

If you’re looking to get tested for coronavirus, 8 On Your Side compiled a list of where you can get one:

If you have issues setting up a coronavirus test, please email investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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