Tampa Bay area hospitals want coronavirus testing labs on site


SARASOTA County, Fla. (WFLA) – In Sarasota, a man from Manatee County is hospitalized and under treatment for the coronavirus; the first in that area. Now hospitals are gearing up for more cases and are asking the government to let them be more involved.

A mother and son are already in isolation at their home after health officials learned she had been in contact with the person testing positive for coronavirus. Now we’re learning there are more people making the lonely wait at area hospitals for test results.

As more people are expected to contract the coronavirus, health care providers are preparing.

“This is a very fluid situation. It’s one no one expected we would be in a week ago,” said David Verinder, CEO of Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital doctors will first test potential cases for other viruses. If those tests come back negative they’ll then test for COVID-19. While tests used to go to the CDC in Atlanta now they go to Tampa, but doctors say tests shouldn’t have to leave the hospital.

“We want to be able to test faster, test more frequently for coronavirus specifically and have physicians be able to order those tests,” said Verinder to 8 on Your Side’s Marco Villarreal.

“You can imagine if someone comes in, they have symptoms like the flu, it takes 3-4 days to get the results back, that’s too long,” said Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida’s 16th District.

Right now, a dozen people remain in isolation waiting to find out if they have the coronavirus and staff at Sarasota Memorial Hospital are using every precaution not to spread the virus.

“We have full gowns on, special masks to block any mucocutaneous areas that could absorb the virus, and special masks that are able to filter out any of those particles,” said Dr. Joseph Seaman at Sarasota Memorial.

With 6,500 employees at this hospital alone, Sarasota Memorial says they have the ability to test and treat patients who may get coronavirus.

The hospital says the only thing they would need is some kits specific for testing COVID-19 and are hoping the federal government will open up the option to test in area hospitals.


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