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Despite Surge, Florida To Rely On Local Governments To Open COVID-19 Testing Sites

 The state has closed mass testing sites, including Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Susan Giles Wantuck
WUSF Public Media
The state has closed mass testing sites, including Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state does not plan on reopening coronavirus testing sites despite a surge in cases.

These large state-supported sites at locations such as Raymond James Stadium and Tropicana Field shut down this spring as demand for testing waned. But things have changed as cases in the state reach record levels.

Speaking in Sarasota on Tuesday, DeSantis said he's leaving it to local governments to decide whether to reopen their own sites.

He said “they've got huge amounts of money from CARES Act” that can go toward opening the sites, adding that testing is also widely available at pharmacies, labs and doctor's offices.

RELATED: Tampa Bay County-By-County Guide To Vaccines And Testing

The Hillsborough County Health Department announced Tuesday it was opening two temporary sites in Tampa with cases on the rise due to the coronavirus variant.

  • Palm River Park Community Center, 725 S. 58th St.
  • Hillsborough County Code Enforcement,. 1101 E. 139th Ave.

The locations open on Sat., Aug. 7 and will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In a news release, county health officials said the sites are opening “out of an abundance of caution and to enhance community testing capabilities.”

“The number of positive cases in Hillsborough County has been increasing in recent weeks, and some residents are reporting wait times of up to three days to be tested,” according to the release.

The two temporary sites will administer 500 free tests on a first-come, first-served basis, and no appointment is necessary. All testing will be conducted indoors, and rapid tests will be administered, though PCR tests will be available upon request.

Face masks will be required, along with a photo ID. Those without insurance can still receive a test.

Sarasota County kept its site open at the former Sarasota Kennel Club throughout the summer. This site is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will test anyone regardless of symptoms.

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Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters,WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.