BayCare Health System will resume its drive-thru Covid-19 testing at three locations, including at Carillon in St. Petersburg, on Monday.
The system is taking a two-day break in service to align resources, including medical supplies, it said in a news release.
BayCare, based in Clearwater and the largest health system in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area, began doing drive-thru testing at seven sites on March 18. Since then, the system consolidated some test sites and tightened the criteria for testing to patients experiencing symptoms.
As of March 27, BayCare had screened more than 8,600 patients in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. It has tested more than 5,250 individuals, in some cases doubling the number of people in a county who have been tested, the health system said.
BayCare sends the tests to private laboratories, which are facing lengthy backlogs.
“Results for patients who’ve visiting the BayCare drive-thru Covid-19 testing sites have begun to come back from the private laboratories where they were sent, though not nearly as quickly as BayCare had expected,” the news release said. BayCare originally expected to have results in five days, but they are now taking “several days,” according to the news release.
Test sites that will reopen on Monday are at BayCare Urgent Care, 900 Carillon Parkway in St. Petersburg; Gulf High School, 5355 School Rd. in Port Richey; and BayCare Urgent Care, 6245 U.S. Highway 27 in Haines City.
“There is incredible value in testing the public so we can raise awareness of infected individuals and encourage them to isolate so they don’t infect many, many more,” said Dr. Nishant Anand, chief medical officer for BayCare. “BayCare also has a responsibility to make sure we are prepared and available to meet the treatment needs of patients, particularly as this pandemic’s impact on our region grows.”
The system expects to provide the testing service for at least five more days, but supplies and staffing make it difficult to determine how long it can continue.
“Like health care providers nationwide, BayCare is experiencing uncertainty in its supply lines for personal protection equipment as well as testing supplies. It is also seeing a growing need to shift personnel back to provide treatment services in its Urgent Care centers and hospitals,” the news release said.
BayCare was one of several health systems that participated in a test site at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. That site provided 900 tests for people with symptoms, but closed when it ran out of test supplies. It is expected to reopen next week with supplies provided by the state of Florida, and BayCare will provide support, the health system said.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, March 27, the Florida Department of Health said there were 82 confirmed coronavirus cases in Pinellas County. Cities in Pinellas with the largest concentration of cases are St. Petersburg (17 cases), Clearwater (17 cases) and Largo (13 cases). One Pinellas County man died earlier this week.