How Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing Works

March 12, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak continues across the country, government and private laboratories are rushing to expand testing capacity.

BayCare Health System is constantly evaluating available testing options to be part of the solution to providing more access. But for now, opportunities to be tested are extremely limited due to a lack of testing kits to process specimens.

Testing currently is not available to the public on-demand and it requires a doctor’s recommendation to obtain. In the Tampa Bay area, only the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) laboratory in Tampa has the materials to process the COVID-19 test. Patients’ specimens must be collected at a health care facility in coordination with the state’s public health officials. Results are available within 24-48 hours. If positive, the Tampa lab forwards the results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation, which can take up to five days.

Private laboratory services such as Quest and LabCorp are also a resource, but they are sending specimens outside the state to be processed.

For now, individuals seeking to be tested should call FDOH directly at 866-779-6121 or email at to discuss their symptoms and whether testing is appropriate.

To keep up with the latest on coronavirus, you can continually visit You can also follow us on social media channels @BayCare.

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