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Tampa Bay

Hillsborough County had to suspend coronavirus testing appointments after reaching limit

The county had just 900 tests to administer and has already filled all appointments.

Hillsborough County is suspending its reservation system for COVID-19 testing. The county has already made appointments for 900 residents since opening a drive-through testing site at Raymond James Stadium Wednesday.

Residents had already begun securing appointments before that testing site opened.

Appointments were only given to people experiencing symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The county won’t make any further reservations for testing until further notice, officials announced Thursday as they only had enough supplies to administer 900.

The call center charged with booking appointments was staffed by health care professionals this week who could screen and qualify callers for testing related to symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

The county administered 198 tests Wednesday, two short of its 200 goal. The site will remain open until Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. only for individuals who received appointments.

The county recommends anyone experiencing symptoms who was unable to obtain an appointment to contact their health care provider for guidance on additional testing options.

Those who are sick, but unable to obtain testing should self-quarantine to risk spreading the virus. Families living in the same home with a sick individual should have that person isolate to a “sick room” if possible to avoid infecting other family members.

Testing options remain limited throughout the state as testing supply shortage continue to plague the entire nation.

Hillsborough County has, as of the Florida Department of Health’s 11 a.m. update, has so far tested 2,268 individuals, 142 of whom have tested positive.

Meanwhile, Pinellas County has had access to just over half the testing with just  1,205 tests administered including 64 that were positive.

Hillsborough County, meanwhile, is expected to implement a “safer at home” order beginning at 10 p.m. Friday that would require all residents, visitors and business to abide by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing.

A similar order in Pinellas County went into effect Thursday at noon.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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