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Hillsborough EPG: New testing site to open, contact tracing resources to increase

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Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 18:54:59-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A new testing site will soon open up in Hillsborough County, county leaders announced Thursday during an Emergency Policy Group (EPG) meeting.

The site is scheduled to open Friday, July 17 in the Town N’ Country area at the Tampa Family Health Center on West Hillsborough Avenue. Staff will take collections from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

“This additional site will provide three sites open on Saturday, [Raymond James Stadium], Brandon clinic, where we partner with Suncoast Community Health Center, and the new Town N’ Country site that’ll open next week,” said Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley. “That’ll give folks a lot more flexibility if they can’t get there during the week to get out there on the weekend.”

During Thursday afternoon’s meeting, Hillsborough County Health Department Director Dr. Doug Holt also discussed efforts to ramp up the county’s COVID-19 contact tracing program. Dr. Holt laid out their current resources at 83 people, who are both contact tracers and case investigators. In the next few weeks, the director said they’ll add about 40 more through CARES funding.

Holt explained a plan to have teams support schools when they re-open and establish a dedicated long-term care investigative team. By August, the director hopes to have 239 people total in the program.

“This will serve us as we go forward in this effort to get the virus suppressed and contained and eventually, we won't eliminate it, but get it back to where it’s not a threat,” said Dr. Holt.

USF Professor of Public Health Dr. Marissa Levine also weighed in during the meeting. She noted to be effective in containing the pandemic on a local level, the area needs to return to a level of about 14 to 15 new cases a day.

Dr. Levine cited a Harvard Global Health Institute report dealing with metrics for COVID-19 suppression.

“The Harvard report -- if you look it -- you’ll see that the recommendation at this stage of the game is to have about 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 population,” said Dr. Levine. “That puts for the Hillsborough County population, you’re talking about over 400 individuals.”

Dr. Levine stressed the importance for everyone in the community to do their part to help flatten the curve. For more information on testing sites in Hillsborough County, click here.