PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — There’s now a new demand for COVID-19 testing as cases keep surging across Florida. Doctors are encouraging everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested if they're feeling sick.
“That remains an important concept because tests are available and do work,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Medical Director of the Emergency Room at Tampa General Hospital.
“We’ve had more patients who are sick and have symptoms,” said Dr. Nicolette Mathey, Pharmacist and Owner of Palm Harbor Pharmacy.
Palm Harbor Pharmacy is one of the places that’s seeing an increase in COVID-19 testing.
“Whereas a few weeks ago, we weren’t seeing any positive cases of COVID, we were just kind of testing people for travel, with our rapid PCR tests and everything was negative, but that has changed in the past few weeks,” said Mathey.
It’s changed quickly with more people seeking COVID-19 tests again, Mathey is seeing the effects of the delta variant firsthand.
“More and more people even the day of, are booking rapid tests for an antigen, a quick 10-minute test, or they’re booking that more sensitive PCR half-hour test and we are seeing more positives, unfortunately,” said Mathey.
With cases climbing, Wilson says public health interventions and mitigation efforts like hand washing, mask-wearing, and getting tested have become necessary again as the fight against the virus intensifies once more.
“Even for vaccinated people because the number of people with COVID with a variant that has high viral load, lots of virus when you sneeze or cough, it’s important to even do those things as the numbers climb and stay high,” said Wilson.
“When the prevalence, the number of people out there in the community who have COVID changes, the things we have to do to protect ourselves and our community from COVID spread, those change as well,” he added.
Doctors say testing, in particular, is an important part of stopping the spread, regardless of vaccination status.
“Vaccinated people may not get as sick and so if we’re feeling even a cold-like symptom, cough, cold, runny nose, fever, any of those things, when we think of respiratory tract symptoms, we need to consider being tested and isolating ourselves, even if we’re vaccinated because we don’t want to perpetuate that spread,” said Wilson.
Where to get tested in the following counties: