Tampa mom frustrated at lack of fast, affordable, wide-spread coronavirus testing for kids in Florida

Investigations

FILE – In this July 23, 2020 file photo, health care workers prepare a COVID-19 test sample before a person self-administered a test at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami-Dade County Auditorium in Miami. Racial disparities in the the U.S. coronavirus epidemic extend to children, according to two sobering government reports released Friday, Aug. 7. One of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports looked at hospitalizations of children with COVID-19. Hispanic children were hospitalized at a rate eight times higher than white kids, and Black children were hospitalized at a rate five times higher, it found.(David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay mom says she is struggling to get fast coronavirus results for her 13-year-old daughter. They’re flying out-of-state for work and they need a COVID-19 test – and guaranteed results – fast. And with the start of school around the corner, 8 On Your Side is digging into the state of testing for kids in Florida.

Stormy Dickson knows the healthcare system well. She’s a registered nurse in multiple states. While her permanent home is in Florida, she has a job in Massachusetts.

“It’s maddening and it actually, in my mind, justifies the numbers that we’re seeing,” said Dickson.

Dickson is flying out of Tampa for an out-of-state job on Monday. Since Florida is considered a hotspot, Massachusetts requires Dickson and her teenage daughter to get a COVID-19 test and results within 72 hours.

If not, they have three options:

  • Quarantine for two weeks
  • Pay up to $500 a day
  • Cancel the trip, which is not an option.

Dickson secured a test for herself but the nurse is scrambling to do the same for her asymptomatic daughter.

“They are saying their turnaround times are…the lowest I found was eight business days,” said Dickson. “Even if a parent wants to have their child tested, it’s almost impossible.”

Dickson spent hours trying to nail down a test for her daughter but she hit roadblocks.

“I’m willing to pay, I have insurance,” said Dickson. “It makes me intensely fearful that we’re talking about mandating children to go back to schools.”

So, what are your testing options for children that are not sick? You can forget big pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. According to the companies, patients must be 18 years old.

State drive-thru sites have notoriously long turnaround times if you’re not 65 and/or with symptoms.

Finally, 8 On Your Side reached out to area Tampa Bay area hospitals. They made it clear hospitals are not community test sites. If you drop by, they’ll treat it as an emergency room visit and you could get a massive bill.

8 On Your Side found one company that says they can get results back within the time frame. We passed that information to Dickson. She says they’re charging $330 for each test.

The bottom line: as of now, there is no fast, affordable, widespread testing for youth in Florida.

If you have a tip for investigator Mahsa Saeidi, send her an email at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

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