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Some Floridians still scrambling to find free COVID-19 tests in Tampa Bay

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As new cases of coronavirus continue to increase in Florida, some viewers tell 8 On Your Side they’re scrambling to find a free coronavirus test. With limited supplies and high demand, Tampa Bay area test sites are quickly reaching capacity.

For the second day in a row, it took about 60 minutes for the test site at Tropicana Field to hit full capacity on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in Hillsborough County, the long lines were testing the patience of drivers at Raymond James Stadium.

“I’m very frustrated,” said Roxanne Bolivar, a resident of Tampa.

Bolivar could not book an appointment at Raymond James Stadium. She says she also tried every other option in town with little luck.

“I’ve called two hospitals in the Hillsborough County area, I called several walk-in clinics,” said Bolivar. “When it comes to testing, we don’t have any availability?”

You could see it in her eyes, Bolivar was sick with worry.

Bolivar lives with and cares for her 90 year-old mom. She’s been wearing a mask and keeping her distance.

But as she waited for a coronavirus test, Bolivar wondered if she was putting her mom in danger.

“I’m getting desperate because it’s like I need to know,” she said. “Maybe if I know I can even get her out of my house.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis told 8 On Your Side last week the demand for tests has gone up and he’s sending more resources to the counties.

At a news conference Tuesday, the message was rosier.

“In March, there was hardly any testing capacity nationwide,” the governor said. “We have robust testing. Everyone who goes into a hospital, if you go in for a procedure, you get tested.”

8 On Your Side worked to help Bolivar track down a test. She had to pay for it but she was able to get her results back quickly.

We found out late Tuesday that Bolivar was negative for coronavirus.

In general, sites that offer free tests hit capacity quickly as cases spike in Florida. For those without a job or who are on a fixed income, a free test may be their only option.

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

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