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Manatee County Opens Limited Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site

Testing will take place at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto.
Manatee County Government
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The announced the first positive case of COVID-19 in Manatee County on March 1.

Twenty-five days later, the county is opening its first drive-thru testing site. The four-day event starts Thursday and is limited to 200 people with an appointment and a doctor's prescription.

The drive-thru specimen collection, which runs through Sunday, is at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto. The Department of Health is scheduling 50 appointments for each of the four days. 

Christopher Tittel, a spokesperson with , said the county plans on offering additional testing but is currently competing for supplies.

“The one thing to keep in mind here is that all 67 counties in Florida are using the same ordering system and all those orders are going up to Tallahassee,” he said. “Emergency Operations has to determine on a statewide basis where the need is the most critical, but we continue to order on behalf of Manatee County. We are in there fighting, but it's tough because there are other counties that are in more critical need.”

Specimens collected at the site will be sent to LabCorp for testing. The turnaround for results is expected to be four days.

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

Tittel said the site will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Visitors to the collection site must have a prescription to be tested for COVID-19 and have made an appointment in advance with Manatee County Health Department. To make an appointment, call (941) 748-0747.

According to the Florida Department of Health, as of Wednesday at 6 p.m., 26 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Manatee County. On Thursday morning, that number had been amended to 24. One person, a 70-year-old man, died from COVID-19 last week.

At an emergency meeting held by the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday morning, Manatee County Public Safety Director Jake Sauer said as more tests become available, those numbers will rise.

“I want to point out that as we ramp up our drive-thru testing sites we should expect more positives to come through,” he said. “As we move forward, we must prepare for the medical surge on the horizon. I can’t emphasize enough the extent to which actions taken now will save lives later.”

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Cathy Carter is the education reporter for WUSF 89.7 and StateImpact Florida.