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Coronavirus testing site breakdown, Pinellas County commissioners extend local state of emergency

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a complaint 8 on your side has heard again and again: Public Officials announce that anyone can get tested for COVID-19 at a local site but when people show up, some are turned away for not showing symptoms. So is there really a place in Pinellas County where you can get tested without symptoms? The answer is yes, here’s everything you need to know.

The Community Health Center opened its call lines Thursday so anyone can make an appointment for any of the below 4 sites for next week. The test is free, you don’t need to be a patient or Florida resident, you just need an ID.

Locations for the CHC sites: No symptoms necessary

  • 707 East Druid Road, Clearwater, Florida 33756
  • 7550 43rd Street North, Pinellas Park, Florida 33781
  • 1344 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33712 (Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center)
  • 5175 45th St N, St. Petersburg, Florida 33714
  • The free tests at the above Community Health Centers are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The spokesperson said you do not have to have symptoms but they highly recommend scheduling an appointment. Some same-day walk-ins and drive-ups will be accepted. To make an appointment, call (727) 824-8181.

Locations for the DOH sites: Symptoms strongly encouraged, exceptions may be given

  • 310 N. Myrtle Ave. Clearwater, Florida 33755
  • 8751 Ulmerton Rd. Largo, Florida 33771
  • 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
  • The Pinellas County Department of Health spokesperson said they’re giving priority to anyone with symptoms. They said to get a free tested with them it’s strongly encouraged that you have symptoms but they may make some exceptions. You can call 727-824-6932 for more information or to schedule an appointment.  

Baycare Site: Symptoms required

  • 900 Carillon Pkwy #106, St. Petersburg, Florida 33716
  • On their website, it said for patients without insurance, the cost of the COVID-19 lab test is $85 at any BayCare facility. They said BayCare is working with governmental agencies to secure funding for patients that are unable to pay for testing. For more information about financial assistance, e-mail or call (855) 233-1555.  

“I live here and I tried to walk, actually drove across the street unsure about walk-ins, and they turned me down [just a few days ago],” said Cathrine Robb who lives across the street from the Pinellas Park Community Health Center testing site.

Robb is a veteran and currently works in the medical field. She doesn’t have symptoms but wants to get tested to be safe. “It’s actually really frustrating,” said Robb.

In Tuesday’s Pinellas County Commissioners meeting many officials expressed their concerns about testing too. “I just am baffled at the lack of accountability,” said Commissioner Janet Long. “I think it’s just been one of the biggest disappointments for me,” said Commissioner Dave Eggers.

Commissioner Eggers referred the system as “de-centralized” and “confusing”. So 8 on your side got on the phone ourselves to get clarification but we got the run-around too.

At first, a Florida State Department of Health told us they had 3 sites in Pinellas County you could go to without symptoms. When we called back a few minutes later the next person on the phone told us you did have to have symptoms. In the end, after many confusing phone calls, we were told everyone is “strongly encouraged” to have symptoms before coming to an FL DOH testing site.

So here’s what we know now. Right now in Pinellas County, there are 4 Community Health Centers where you can get tested without symptoms. There are 3 Department of Health sites where it is strongly recommended you have symptoms, but they may make exceptions. At the one Baycare site, you’re required to have symptoms.

Robb said she isn’t giving up on trying to get her test. “I’m going to keep trying, yeah, you know that. And stay positive. That’s all we can do!” said Robb.

In Thursday’s Commission meeting, the Director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County Dr. Ulyee Choe said we’re getting more testing sites where you can go without having any symptoms next week.

Also during the meeting, the Pinellas County commission extended the local state of emergency through May 22 and discussed a transition plan to restore certain county public-functions and public meetings.

For more information on the county’s COVID-19 response, visit covid19.pinellascounty.org/health.

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