State to take over COVID-19 testing at Raymond James Stadium to increase capacity

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – Josh Carrasco thinks there is a possibility he was recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 and wanted to be tested just to be on the safe side but it hasn’t been easy.

Carrasco tried to set up an appointment for a test and discovered the soonest he could get an appointment is July 9 with Hillsborough County. He also learned he couldn’t set up an appointment at a private testing facility.

“Well, because we are not exhibiting symptoms, we didn’t qualify to take a test,” said Carrasco.
Hillsborough County residents have had many problems just getting through a call center line to set up an appointment.

“The call center line we were using was our central call center number. So, these folks were competing for a finite number of phone lines with folks that were calling for a code enforcement issue,” said Jon-Paul Lavandeira with Hillsborough County.

Now a separate line dedicated to COVID-19 questions has been set up and the county has called for state help to run the testing location at Raymond James Stadium.

“Their goal is to process a thousand people a day through that site which is much, much more because of the limitations of the number of licensed medical personnel that we have,” said Lavandeira.

Dr. Jay Wolfson, a distinguished professor of public health medicine at U.S.F. says there are many reasons people are having problems getting appointments for COVID19 tests, including a lack of people to administer the tests and a lack of test kits.

“That’s just a supply chain issue. You have to order in advance, you have to expect what your population is going to be like. It’s like going to McDonald’s and they say hey folks we’re out of hamburgers. We can’t let that happen,” said Dr. Wolfson.

The state will take over testing at the Raymond James Stadium location on Tuesday and the county believes that it will help smaller test locations in the county.

“It alleviates some of the demand on some of these smaller sights because Raymond James will be open more days of the week, being able to process more people through the gates, it’s going to be overall a force multiplier for all of us,” said Lavandeira.

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