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USF's Yuengling Center Eyed For Hospital Overflow Site; Ray Jay To Reopen For Tests

Yuengling Center at the USF Tampa campus
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Hillsborough County took additional steps Monday to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as it continues its first week of an enforced stay-at-home policy.

The county has gotten another 1,500 testing collection kits from the state and will reopen its testing site at Raymond James Stadium for three days beginning Wednesday. It will be open from 8 to 11 a.m. through Friday.

The county is also eyeing opening up several emergency sites to act as an overflow, in case local hospitals run out of beds. Tim Dudley, Hillsborough's emergency management director, said they're negotiating with the state to use the University of South Florida's indoor arena.

"The Yuengling Center is identified as an alternative care site and would be established for up to 250 beds," Dudley told members of Hillsborough's Emergency Policy Group.

It would be outfitted with cots to provide basic support for patients who don't need critical care.

The Yuengling Center - then known as the Sun Dome - was an emergency shelter for people who special needs who fled Hurricane Irma three years ago.

Also, county officials have gotten 50 motel rooms that will be used for people considered at high-risk, like single mothers who are homeless. Carl Harness, the county's chief Human Services Administrator, said they're looking at procuring another 50 motel rooms.


Here's information from the county on anyone who wants to be tested for COVID-19 at Raymond James Stadium:

Drive-thru testing will be administered by appointment only to symptomatic patients that have pre-registered through Hillsborough County's call center.

Vehicle passengers MUST only include those needing a test. The call center will be taking appointments Tuesday, March 31 through Thursday, April 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Appointment seekers are urged to be thoughtful of others. Test kit supplies are low, and demand is very high across the nation. Those who fail to arrive at their designated appointment time will lose their opportunity to be tested without exception. Residents that miss appointments or fail to show up will be required to re-register through the call center as missed appointments may result in other symptomatic residents being unable to secure a needed appointment time.

The site is in the parking lot south of the stadium bordered by Tom McEwen Blvd. on the north, Dale Mabry Hwy. to the west, and Himes Ave. to the east.

Vehicles should enter from Dale Mabry Hwy. or Himes Ave. Entry will be marked with signage.

The site will be staffed by health care professionals in medical protective gear who are trained to test for COVID-19 coronavirus. Directional signage and law enforcement will help residents through the testing site in an orderly fashion.

Pre-Screening and Pre-Registration Are Required:

Residents may get tested if they have been pre-screened and meet testing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health.

        Residents also must be pre-registered through the Hillsborough County Customer Service Center at (813) 272-5900. The call center will be augmented with health care staff this week on Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.         Persons who do not have a designated primary care physician or are uninsured are eligible for pre-screening and pre-registration through the call center.

What to Bring:

  •         You must arrive in a personal vehicle. Due to the increased risk of contamination as well as current shortages of personal protective equipment, walk-ups are not permitted at this time.
  •         Each person to be tested must be seated next to a working window.
  •         Limit vehicle passengers to those needing a test.
  •         Have a photo ID for all persons being tested with name, date of birth, and photo (can be Florida driver's license, state-issued ID, or passport).
  •         Bring a printed copy of the testing confirmation email from the Hillsborough County Customer Service Center. Having this form with you will expedite the process.
  •         Residents that are unable to print their confirmation number can provide a screen shot on their phone.

You will be required to provide the following information:

  •     Full name
  •     Current address (where you are staying)
  •      Best phone number to reach you in order to receive test results

What to Expect:

  •         You will be greeted by a health care provider in personal protective gear who will give you instructions.
  •         You will be given a tissue to blow your nose. You will need to keep the tissue to dispose of on your own.
  •         A soft swab will be inserted deep into your nose to get the necessary sample. This may be slightly uncomfortable, but the test is quick and should take less than a minute.
  •         Test results are not immediate. It may take several days. After the test, you will be given information on what to do while you await the results.
  •         You will receive test results via the telephone number you gave at the time of pre-screening.



Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.