Getting Tested For COVID-19 May Test Your Patience

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Testing for the COVID-19 virus is available in Pinellas County but finding out when, where and how to get one scheduled can be a challenge.

During a Thursday meeting, Pinellas County Commissioners expressed their dismay over how difficult it has become to get tested.

Even though there are several sites in county where there is testing every weekday, the demand is high and just booking an appointment takes time and effort.

Pinellas Public Health Director Dr. Ulee Choe told commissioners that more pop-up testing sites would be coming to northern Pinellas Country soon but did not give specifics.

Commissioner Dave Eggers said he was disappointed and referred to the system as “de-centralized” and “confusing.”

In an effort to help people through the testing maze, Pinellas County has a “Testing for COVID-19” page on the county website at https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/testing/

It should be updated daily. As of Thursday, the county reported that 23,458 people had been tested.

Adding to public confusion is that there are three different agencies giving tests, different requirements for getting a test, and different charges.

If you have symptoms (dry cough, fever, shortness of breath) you can get tested for free at the Pinellas Department of Health (727-824-6900). You must call and make an appointment (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Monday – Friday.

You can get tested at BayCare locations (BayCareAnywhere.org). An appointment is required. Call 1-855-233-1555. Hours 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday – Friday. For patients without insurance, the cost of the COVID-19 lab test is $85 at any BayCare facility.

There are additional testing sites in Pinellas where you can get tested with or without symptoms including the Community Health Centers of Pinellas (call 727-824-8181 or visit www.chcpinellas.org to make an appointment.

CHC is offering testing at 4 locations:
Mon-Fri (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)

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
5175 45th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33714 (Lealman Exchange)

Walt spent 35 years as a reporter, feature writer. TV critic and columnist for The Tampa Tribune. Prior to that he worked in the public relations office at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and as a reporter for The Greenville (SC) News. He and his wife, Debbie, have lived in Safety Harbor for 10 years. He also taught media writing courses at the University of Tampa. Since moving here, he has been active with the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, hosting a monthly storytelling night.