HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Officials have made testing more accessible to people who can’t get to a COVID-19 test site in Hillsborough County. They’ve now gone mobile with at-home testing.
“The mobile testing option has been stood up for the last week, and right now we’ve done throughout this last week, I’d say a little less than 30 [at-home tests] thus far,” said Jon-Paul Lavandeira with Hillsborough County Code Enforcement.
Lavandeira is in charge of operations and logistics for testing sites in the county. Testing is free and insurance is not required. An at-home test is targeted towards people who can’t walk or drive to a local testing site.
“We need folks to realize there’s a lot of resources involved in doing something like that, a lot of cost involved in doing something like that,” said Lavandeira. “If someone has the ability to drive themselves or walk to one of the sites, this is not something for them. This is only something for those who legitimately don’t have the means to get a test.”
To schedule an at-home test, you’ll want to call Hillsborough County’s call center at 813-272-5900. People who are home-bound need to indicate they do not have transportation so you can be scheduled for a mobile test.
“Our paramedics go to the home, we’ll meet the individual either outside or inside their home, whichever they’re more comfortable with,” said Clara Reynolds, CEO and President of Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. “We go through a series of questions first, and we just very quickly do the nasal swabs.”
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is one of the providers the county contracted to perform at-home tests at an on-demand basis. After paramedics do an at-home test, the samples are taken back to a test site like Raymond James Stadium.
“We believe that if we really want our community to open, testing needs to be available to everyone who needs it, and we feel we’re just a piece of this bigger puzzle to make sure that’s available,” said Reynolds.
Lavandeira recognized testing, along with at-home tests, feeds into data and models that can indicate when areas can open back up amid the COVID-19 crisis. Lavandeira says the wider the net cast on testing, the better the information for decision makers to get things open.
“We want to make sure that we offer them every option that we can to get tested because like those who can drive and those who can walk, they have the same doubts in their mind too, ‘Oh my god have I been exposed, do I have this, do I not?” said Lavandeira. “This is an ability to meet them and put that doubt to rest.”
For specific information on testing in Hillsborough County, click here.