SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — Demand for coronavirus testing is on the rise as cases across Florida continue to climb. The latest report from the department of health shows 109,014 positive cases statewide.
Sarasota County has reported 1,061 coronavirus cases with 188 hospitalizations and 95 deaths. In Manatee County, there are 2,116 residents who have tested positive with 253 hospitalizations and 127 deaths.
For the first time in several weeks, state-run testing sites across the Suncoast are overloaded with people trying to get tested. All three state-run sites hit their combined 1,250 capacity before noon on Wednesday. That includes the testing site at UTC Mall, the walk-up site at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center and the walk-up site at Lincoln Park in Palmetto.
Lines were so long at the UTC site that at least two people ran out of gas from the hours-long wait.
Geoff Hojara showed up at the site on the county line early Wednesday afternoon to fill up his daughter’s gas tank. He admits he was surprised to see the site already turning people away.
He feels it is time for the state to increase its testing capacity to meet the growing demand.
“They are supposed to run until 5 or so at least. We need to expand it and more testing kits need to be supplied,” said Hojara.
One woman we spoke with drove over 90 minutes to the site at UTC only to get turned around. She was frustrated by the shortage in tests and explained her job is on the line.
“At work, if I don’t have it done in 72 hours, they are going to take me off of the schedule,” she said.
8 On Your Side asked officials with the Florida Division of Emergency Management if and when they plan on increasing testing at sites that cannot meet the growing demand. This is the response we received:
The state is continuing to increase COVID-19 testing daily. Since May 29, six new testing locations have opened in partnership with Home Depot, Publix and Quest. In addition to opening new sites, the state has expanded testing capacity at many sites. For example, the testing capacity at the Orange County Convention Center has been increased from 1,000 tests per day to 2,000. The state also provides collection kits for testing conducted at the local level, and continues to administer rapid testing through the COVID-19 mobile testing lab. We look forward to continuing to work with private-sector partners, local governments and will use all available resources to increase testing in Florida.