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In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island. Wide scale testing is a critical part of tracking and containing infectious diseases. But the U.S. effort has been plagued by a series of missteps, including accuracy problems with the test kits the CDC sent to other labs and bureaucratic hurdles that slowed the entrance of large, private sector labs. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Hillsborough to receive 1,000 additional tests, will re-open Raymond James testing site

Hardest hit counties, including Hillsborough, are receiving additional coronavirus testing supplies.

Hillsborough County is expecting enough supplies to conduct another 1,000 COVID-19 tests. In a Friday press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was sending shipments of testing supplies to the hardest hit areas so far — South Florida and Hillsborough County.

The county now expects to re-open the Raymond James Stadium testing site when those supplies are received.

The site was open this week to test individuals who received appointments. The county had 900 tests to conduct at the site this week. Appointments filled up by Thursday and the county stopped accepting new appointments. All of those tests have been administered, the county announced Friday.

Only those showing symptoms can receive a test.

The county still has a shortage of personal protective equipment required for medical teams at testing sites.

Because of uncertainty surrounding when the tests or PPEs will be received, the county has not yet announced an official launch date.

Once the tests arrive and the county is able to receive other necessary equipment, they must also re-mobilize call center representatives who handle making appointments.

 The Raymond James Stadium testing site is a collaboration between the county, city of Tampa, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County as well as BayCare, Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth and HCA Healthcare West Florida Division.

Testing shortages have limited data statewide. DeSantis said he’s sending supplies to area where data shows the highest concentrations of the virus, however with limited testing availability, the data might not paint an accurate picture of where outbreaks are occurring.

Pinellas County, for example, has only tested about half the number of individuals as Hillsborough and has about half the reported cases. Hillsborough has reported 167 cases while Pinellas has reported 77.

But Hillsborough has tested more than 2,700 people while Pinellas has tested 1,335. The numbers suggest Pinellas could have a similar concentration of affected individuals, but aren’t able to obtain testing to confirm symptoms.

Pinellas is not among counties receiving additional testing supplies.

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 Patch.com 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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