Tampa Bay mother sick, self-quarantining, still can’t get COVID-19 test

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is hearing from more viewers who can’t qualify for a COVID-19 test.

Our crews were on-scene as one of the Tampa Bay area’s biggest test sites opened at Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday.

At last check, a Hillsborough County spokesman said at least 160 people were tested at the site on the first day of operation with more residents expected to be tested on Thursday.

Residents are required to be pre-screened, pre-registered and meet testing guidelines set by the CDC and Florida Dept. of Health before showing up to get tested. 

“It feels like I have stuff in my lungs … and I’m still coughing,” said Nicole Talbutt.

Talbutt said she’s been sick and self-quarantining at home for days. She tried to make an appointment by calling the Hillsborough County Customer Service Center to get pre-screened.

Talbutt says she didn’t qualify for a test.

“Did you tell them you have asthma?” asked Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“I did, I’m actually on Symbicort,” said Talbutt. “I’m terrified. I don’t know if I have it or not.”

For days now, 8 On Your Side has been digging into why more Floridians are not getting tested.

Donna St. Louis is the VP of Business Development at BayCare Health Systems. BayCare is one of the hospitals working with the county to test patients at the stadium.

She told 8 On Your Side about the questions you can expect during that pre-screening call.

“Are you over 65? Have you traveled internationally or have you been to one of the states that’s a hot spot?” said St. Louis.

“If you say no to all of those, but if you have a cough and a fever, can you get a test?” asked Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Yes.”

St. Louis says if you have a cough and a fever, you will get tested.

However, now health care workers across Tampa Bay tell 8 On Your Side there’s a lack of supplies.

“The hospitals are in desperate need, just like everyone is in desperate need for kits,” said St. Louis.

At a news conference on Wednesday, we heard a different message about test kits from Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Everywhere has quote testing kits, but what is in short supply is the collections swab to take the sample,” said Governor DeSantis.

As we continue to report on this problem daily, it’s clear there’s a lack of supplies and health care workers are doing the best they can with what they have.

To pre-register for a COVID-19 test, call the Hillsborough County Customer Service Center at 813-272-5900.

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