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COVID-19 testing up in Hillsborough County as omicron spreads

Swab test
Posted at 3:57 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 17:36:07-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Health experts are preparing for a post-holiday COVID-19 surge as omicron continues to spread fast.

“Omicron’s rate of spread is much more rapid than any other variant’s rate of spread has been thus far,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, the Emergency Room Associate Medical Director at Tampa General Hospital.

Indication of that can be found right here in Hillsborough County off Rome Avenue where the line for testing wrapped all the way around the county facility.

“This variant likes to transmit, and it has a larger population that it can transmit in. It can transmit, not as well, but in vaccinated people,” said Dr. Michael Teng, and Associate Professor of Medicine at USF. “I think the data from the CDC looks like cases are about five times lower in vaccinated people and 10 times lower in boosted people.”

From December 17 to 19, 2,051 people were tested, but Sunday, December 26, the day after Christmas, 2,394 people were tested.

Monday’s numbers are still coming in.

Dr. Teng says because omicron is so transmissible, it’s better to wear more protective and fitted masks like N-95’s versus your standard cloth mask although any mask is better than not wearing one at all.

Really with that more transmissible means is that it takes fewer virus particles to infect you, it takes a lower dose of the virus. That’s the problem, we saw that with alpha, delta and now omicron,” he said.

Several places offer COVID-19 testing like CVS and Walgreens but many of those places do require an appointment. Or, you can purchase an at-home COVID test, which costs around $20.00, but can provide results in about 15 minutes.

You can get tested at the county site (2103 N Rome Ave, Tampa, FL 33607) from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. It will close for News Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.