State-run COVID testing sites in Sarasota, Manatee counties shutting down for good this weekend


PALMETTO, Fla. (WFLA) – About 60 percent of people in Manatee County have been tested for COVID-19 at least once since the start of the pandemic. Many of those opted to visit state-operated sites in the region.

Local Department of Health officials recently learned those sites are winding down statewide.

“We are concerned. We found out in the last 48 hours that the testing site is closing this week at the convention center and the two in Sarasota are also being closed this week by the state,” said DOH Manatee Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Bencie during a commission meeting Tuesday. “By the end of the month, there will be no testing sites through the state available,” she explained.

State-run COVID testing sites are expected to be shut down for good by May 28.

Demand for testing is no where near what it was months back, but Dr. Bencie explained the need is still there.

“They will come to the health departments, they will come to some of the pharmacies in the community, but they can do very few. We still do 800 to 1000 a day at the convention center and we are seeing well over 10 percent positivity rates on the rapid test still at the convention center,” she said.

Residents think the state’s move to shut down these large-scale sites might be premature.

“I think it is crazy to shut them down. I think they should keep them open for months to come,” said Bradenton resident Sherre Fenton. “The cases are still coming up every day. They may not be as much as they were months ago or even last year, but it’s still here. People are still dying; it’s crazy,” she continued.

As the Florida Division of Emergency Management begins to close COVID-19 testing sites around the state, DOH-Manatee wants to make sure that Manatee residents who want COVID-19 tests know where they can go.

“We want to assure Manatee residents that they have options for testing sites through our community partners,” said DOH Manatee Communications Director Christopher Tittel. “We have a terrific network of community partners who are offering that service in the absence of the FDEM sites that we’ve grown so used to,” he continued.

MCR Health is booking appointments for testing at its locations around Manatee County. To book an appointment, call (941) 776-4000.

Testing Sites in Manatee, Sarasota counties

Near Bradenton Area Convention Center:

  • Walgreens 8th Ave. Palmetto
  • CVS 8th Ave. Palmetto
  • CVS Bradenton
  • CVS West Bradenton
  • Ellenton Urgent Care
  • Ellenton Premium Outlets (drive up site in parking lot)

Near Sarasota Kennel Club

  • CVS Tamiami Trail
  • Walgreens 17th St.
  • Walgreens University Parkway
  • Walgreens Tamiami Trail
  • America’s Pharmacy

Near Robert Taylor Community Center (Sarasota)

  • CVS Tamiami Trail
  • Walgreens 17th St.
  • Walgreens University Parkway
  • Walgreens Tamiami Trail
  • America’s Pharmacy

Doctors’ offices and the Florida Department of Health in Manatee can also provide testing.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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