TAMPA, Fla. — BayCare Health Systems announced on Friday it was continuing drive-thru testing at three locations starting on Monday.
The drive-thru testing for COVID-19 began at several Tampa Bay locations on March 17. There were originally seven locations, but several locations were closed due to available resources.
“This will allow us to test more people more efficiently and safely,” Dr. Nishant Anand, MD, chief medical officer at BayCare, said. “As state and federal authorities make more testing supplies available, our capacity can increase. BayCare is committed to maximizing what tools we have to serve our communities and we hope to see this concept expand in the future.”
“We do not want to use up all of the testing capabilities for screenings here and not be able to screen our most critical patients in the hospitals," he said.
As of Friday, the company said its screened more than 8,600 people in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. Of those, 5,250 were tested.
BayCare anticipates providing the testing for at least five more days, but the decision will be made on a day-to-day basis. That decisions is based on supplies and personnel available.
“There is incredible value in testing the public so we can raise awareness of infected individuals and encourage them to isolate so they don’t infect many, many more,” said Dr. Nishant Anand. “BayCare also has a responsibility to make sure we are prepared and available to meet the treatment needs of patients, particularly as this pandemic’s impact on our region grows.”
Dr. Waldrep says you do not need to have a doctors note, but will need to meet the testing criteria regardless.
“If they have a doctors note and they meet criteria they will be screened. If they do not have a doctors note and they meet the criteria they will be screened," he said.
BayCare officials says they "prefer that that people have been referred by a physician," before showing up at the testing sites.
That criteria includes:
- You must in the past 14 days have had a fever or a cough and shortness of breath
- You must have been exposed to somebody with a known COVID-19 exposure
- You must have traveled internationally or traveled from California, Washington state, Oregon and New York
- Have an immune compromised condition.
- Be over the age of 65 with serious chronic health conditions (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
That criteria has bent ever so slightly as more tests have been made available and the disease is considered community spread in Florida.
The following testing sites will be open starting Monday from 9 a.m. until noon:
- BayCare Urgent Care (Carillon) | 900 Carillon Parkway, Suite. 106, St. Petersburg, FL 33716
- Gulf High School | 5355 School Rd, Port Richey, FL 34652
- BayCare Urgent Care (Haines City) | 6245 U.S. Highway 27, Haines City, FL 33844
Step one includes answering a series of criteria questions. Step two is where you present your ID and paperwork and step three is when health officials take a swab and sample and send you on your way.
BayCare says results for patients who have already visited the drive-thru sites are beginning to come back, but not as quickly as anticipated. Originally it was expected to take five days to receive results, but BayCare says that has increased by several days.