Tampa Bay coronavirus testing locations reopen after Tropical Storm Eta with long lines

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – At Tropicana Field on Friday, the line for people waiting to be tested for COVID-19 was more than an hour.

Drivers were asked at the start of the line if they have a full tank of gas so they could make it to the end.

That didn’t bother Bill Ross.

“As long as it’s available, that’s all I care,” Ross said.

Patrick Oliphant was in line to be tested for the first time.

“Just wanted to be safe. Things are kind of getting worse it seems like. My grandparents live in Daytona so I got to help them out and don’t want to be that guy who gave it to their grandparents,” Oliphant said.

Ian Tuma is a regular in the line, but had never seen it so long at the Trop.

“We throw small private events and one of the safety precautions we take is that all of our cast and crew is tested, so we are here at least once a week,” Tuma said.

Pinellas County officials say there are many reasons the line has grown so long.

One of the reasons being that the testing location at Tropicana Field was closed briefly due to Tropical Storm Eta.

“Nationally and locally that we’ve seen, the percentage of positivity has increased, so I think many people are going in to get tested. Many people are seeing exposure or they are going back to work, maybe they are planning on traveling for the holiday season,” said Ashley Johnson with Pinellas County.

Johnson says the tests at Tropicana Field are free, but other locations do charge for the tests.

“It’s not free everywhere. Do check with each site to be sure and call ahead of time and different tests are different. So if you are looking at an antibody test that may have a cost. If you are looking at a rapid test in different locations, that may have a cost,” she said.

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