What to expect when getting tested for COVID-19 in the Tampa Bay area

Hillsborough, Pinellas now offering free testing
Posted at 5:43 AM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 07:40:29-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties have recently opened up COVID-19 screenings to all people, for free, regardless of insurance status. This comes as some healthcare systems across the Tampa Bay area are also providing their own free coronavirus tests.


However, your experience may vary based on when and where you are screened for COVID-19. Three different kinds of COVID-19 tests are available depending on the screening location and include a nasal swab test, an oral swab test, and a saliva sample test.

Nasal Swab: This where a healthcare worker will insert a swab deep into your nose. Doctors say it may be uncomfortable, but it shouldn't be painful. Expect the swab to be held in place for several seconds to absorb secretions.

Oral (Throat) Swab: This is where a healthcare worker will insert a swab and take a sample from the back of your throat, similar to a strep throat test.

Saliva (Spit) Test: This only requires that you cover your nose with a tissue and cough strongly several times. Then, you spit into a cup several times, filling the bottom of the specimen cup.

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While there are some walk-up testing locations across the Bay Area, for the most part, expect to stay in your car during the entire test. Healthcare workers will approach your vehicle and direct you on where to go during the process.

For the majority of testing sites across the Bay Area, pre-registration through a phone call or online registration is preferred.

Hillsborough County Testing Sites

  • Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa
  • Lee Davis Community Resource Center, 3402 N. 22nd St., Tampa
  • Plant City Community Resource Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave., Plant City
  • SouthShore Community Resource Center, 201 14th Ave. SE, Ruskin

Residents who want to be tested should call (813) 272-5900. Insurance is not required. The call center is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call center is experiencing high call volume right now. County officials are asking people not to hang up, but stay and try and secure a spot.

Hillsborough County sites are only administering the oral and nasal swab tests. The State of Florida is providing the tests to Hillsborough County. Whether you get a nasal test or an oral test depends on what is available that day. People getting tests will receive whatever is in stock on that day.

Pinellas County Testing

Pinellas County residents can now get COVID-19 tests at no cost. Residents do not need symptoms to be tested.

The following testing sites will be open Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

  • 707 East Druid Road, Clearwater, FL 33756
  • 7550 43rd Street North, Pinellas Park, FL 33781
  • 1344 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center)

Testing sites will provide same day walk-ups and drive ups, but appointments are recommended to decrease wait times. Make an appointment by calling 727-824-8181 and selecting option.

A condensed electronic registration will be required at testing sites. Residents are asked to bring a valid ID.

ABC Action News is working to find out what kind of test is administered at these testing sites and will update this article with new information.

AdventHealth COVID-19 Testing

Testing Sites (not through Hillsborough County)

  • AdventHealth Center Ice (Wesley Chapel)
  • Adventure Island, Busch Gardens’ Waterpark (Tampa)

How to Get Tested at AdventHealth
Sign up in advance by clicking the Location. Arrive at the testing site at your scheduled time. Stay in your car and follow the direction of the staff. You will be asked screening questions and may have your temperature taken. Then, healthcare workers will give you instructions on how they will administer the test.

What to Bring
Bring your driver’s license and insurance card if you have one (insurance is accepted; no out-of-pocket cost). If you have an order from a doctor to be tested, you should bring that as well, but it is not required.

It is recommended to write your full name and registration number on a piece of paper and place it on your dashboard for workers to more easily check you in.

Your Test Results
AdventHealth anticipates your test results will be available within 3 - 5 business days. After your screening, doctors say you should self-isolate at home.

AdventHealth is only administering the salvia (spit) tests. Anyone who receives an appointment time will simply drive to the test site, then remain in their vehicle for the test, which only requires that they cough and spit into a cup.

Baycare Testing Sites

For patients without insurance, the cost of the COVID-19 lab test is $85 at any BayCare facility. Payment is not due at testing. BayCare is working with governmental agencies to secure funding for patients that are unable to pay for testing. For more information about financial assistance, e-mail or call (855) 233-1555.

For patients with insurance, the Federal government has noted that all payors should ensure that these tests are covered for all insurance plans. Please contact your insurance company for additional information.

FInd a Baycare Testing Location near you

ABC Action News is still working to find out what type of test Baycare testing sites are administering and will update this article with new information.