TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – People are spending the last day of 2021 waiting in line, not to see the ball drop, but to get a COVID-19 test.
“We were thinking about getting together with some family and they could be compromised if I carried it around them so I just wanted to make sure I was being responsible,” said Michele Alexander, a Tampa resident who is experiencing some cold-like symptoms.
She woke up at 5 a.m. to arrive at the city of Tampa’s new testing site at Al Lopez Park before it opened.
She is grateful the city and county are opening up these sites again.
“Oh I think it’s wonderful. I tried to get into some of the pharmacies and they’re booked until January 6th and that’s not going to help us today,” said Alexander.
Kerry Dozier needs a test to return home to England on Sunday. He arrived 90 minutes before the Al Lopez Park testing site opened at 7 a.m.
He was unable to get a PCR test anywhere else.
“If this isn’t a test that I can get, at least I have a half a day to figure something else out with the holiday coming up,” said Dozier.
The Al Lopez Park testing site will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
Hillsborough County is hosting testing sites at Lee Davis Community Resource Center and Plant City Community Resource Center Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Starting on Sunday, the county-run site at Progress Village Park, which hit capacity Thursday at 3 p.m., will again be offering tests seven days a week.
Florida health officials say three out of four new infections are caused by the omicron variant.
While Dr. Anthony Fauci says studies show omicron may cause less severe symptoms, it is more transmissible than earlier variants.
At Tampa General Hospital, more than 80 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to less than 30 two weeks ago.
“Even if omicron ends up being much less severe if we see enough cases emerge we’re going to see hospitalizations continue to increase,” said Dr. Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at USF.