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Hillsborough County teams up with USF to tackle coronavirus testing challenges

Posted at 4:40 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 18:16:36-04

HILLSBOROUGH, COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County is partnering up with the University of South Florida to tackle barriers that keep people from getting tested.

Currently, only a little over 1% of the county's population has been tested. In response, the county teamed up with USF to open three new testing sites.

  • 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

The point of the county partnering up with USF is to embed these sites into the community and improve access to testing.

The Lee Davis Community Resource Center was chosen for its pedestrian-friendly location. Several community members reached out to leaders with the Emergency Policy Group expressing concerns about testing at Raymond James Stadium, which required you have a car.

Ronald Moore got tested for COVID-19 along with his fiance, Sheila Riley, who works in child care.

“It’s like a Q-Tip, you are cleaning your nose with a Q-Tip but a little more in-depth," said Moore.

Riley says with so many people that are asymptomatic, she wants to make sure she's negative especially since she works with children.

“You can wear the mask, you can wear the glove. Sometimes it’s not protective enough," she said. "So to be on the safe side you have to get tested. You need to get tested. It’s very important to get tested.”

Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine at USF, says the county has the capacity to test more people than what is currently being done.

“Because we’ve been reluctant to test less risk folks and only those that are hospitalized and that have symptoms and risk factors — that’s what the CDC has told us to do— we’ve not tested nearly enough folks. Now we’re starting to liberalize that," he said.

He says the next phase is to get more aggressive with testing and containment and that means loosening up the rules to who is able to be tested. Currently, you still need to have symptoms in order to get registered for the test in the county.

“The only way we are going to stop this virus is to identify the folks that have it and isolate them and isolate the folks that have been exposed to them. Testing is the single key to resolving this problem," he said.

The test is free and you don’t have to have insurance. Call the county at 813-272-5900 to register for a test.