ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Wednesday was opening day for a free COVID-19 testing site at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Crowds began lining up at 4 a.m. for the site that opened at 11 a.m.
8 On Your Side asked county leaders if this new site be able to keep up with the growing demand.
County Commissioner Charlie Justice told us yes. He said that with their increased staffing and testing kits, they plan to do 1,200 coronavirus tests a day.
“This is not something that was just set up yesterday. The staff has really worked hard for you to weave your way through here. Once we start opening you’ll see it’s going to open pretty quickly. It was really critical for us to have this open until 7 p.m. so that people can come after work,” said Commissioner Justice.
However, the test site closed its line early due to high demand on Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County on Twitter.
Florida Department of Health officials told 8 On Your Side the big difference between this site and others is the state Division of Emergency Management is playing a bigger role here.
“The fact that we’re seeing a large demand for the test shows us people are really taking this seriously,” said Tom Iovino with DOH-Pinellas.
“Extensive testing like this will help us get a handle on how many people have [the virus] and then we will be able to inform them to stay away from others until they recover,” said Iovino.
8 On Your Side spoke with one St. Pete woman who is happy to have the testing site in the neighborhood.
“I think it’s great. Actually, some neighbors and I were talking about coming out and getting tested. I think it makes it more accessible for people that live around here. I think it’s going to increase the chances of people getting tested,” said Lexi Floyd-Nye.
“This is an area that is seeing a large number of cases of COVID-19. Putting this testing location here makes a lot of sense,” said Iovino.
County leaders say anyone can get a free test here Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You don’t have to have a doctor’s note, symptoms, or even live in the county.
One thing you do need is a car, because this site is drive-through only. Only four people in each car are allowed to get tested.
For up to date availability on testing, visit Healthy Pinellas on Twitter.
For more information about COVID testing at this site, click here.