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Hillsborough County needs more coronavirus test kits as it considers 'stay at home' order

Posted: 11:35 PM, Mar 22, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-23 09:06:42-04
Coronavirus COVID-19 testing Miami Florida

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County has their hands full the next few days. County officials are working to get more test kits secured, in order to get a drive-up coronavirus testing center up and running at Raymond James Stadium. They’re also discussing a stay-at-home order in the county.

Officials say they are getting 900 test kits from the Florida Department of Health for the testing center at Raymond James Stadium. But they say that, based off of numbers in other testing locations throughout the state, 900 is not enough to get the testing center up and running.

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County officials have not said exactly how many test kits are needed for the drive-up testing center, nor when the testing center will open for operation, only that it is their top priority.

In a press conference Saturday, City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the State of Florida is doing what they can at this time, regarding efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but Castor criticized the work of those at the federal level.

“This is the highest level of unpreparedness from the federal government that I have ever seen in any type of an emergency,” said Mayor Jane Castor.

Castor warned people the numbers of coronavirus cases in the county will likely increase.

“The only reason we don’t have a lot of positive cases is, we don’t have the ability to test on a large scale,” said Castor.

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Mayor Castor also urged people to prepare for a "stay at home" order.

“It will be soon. I would be surprised if it’s not by Monday,” said Castor.

If not at the state level, Castor predicts it will come at the county level.

“We don’t know if the governor is going to call one at this particular point in time, we were waiting to see what he may do,” said Les Miller, Hillsborough County Commissioner for District 3.

A “stay at home” order would close down all non-essential businesses.

Things like hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, as well as take out and delivery food options would remain open.

And people would still be able to go outside and take a walk, as long as they're practicing social distancing.

The emergency policy group and other county officials are meeting with the mayors of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City on Monday at 1:30 PM, to decide whether they will put a local stay at home order in place.