Want to get tested? Be prepared to wait

The COVID-19 testing site at Bragg Memorial Stadium. Photo by Elaina Williams

Before you plan on getting COVID-19 tested, grab a snack, some water and something to keep you busy for a few hours.

With coronavirus cases sky-rocketing in Florida, Tallahassee residents are frantically trying to get tested.

However, most testing sites have restrictions. At the CVS testing locations, patients have to legally reside in Florida, they must be in a vehicle and drive up to the window, and they must be 18 or older. You also have to qualify for testing by taking a test online which analyzes your symptoms.

These restrictions are making it difficult for those who dont qualify for appointments, causing folks to question if its even worth it.

A mother of five had to miss work to bring her children to FAMU to get tested.

I think it sucks that this is the only location we can come to for the kids,” she said. We saw that Home Depot is starting to do the testing but theyre only doing 18 and up and I cant send my kids back to day care without negative test results.”

Florida A&M is conducting COVID-19 tests at Bragg Memorial Stadium on a walk-in basis with a three- to four-hour wait most of the time.

Appointments are being accepted but the soonest available appointment is three weeks out.

Patients are asked to arrive hours early, wait in line in the shattering heat, take a ticket, give their cellphone number to the administrators on site, go to their cars, and come back to the site when they receive a text saying it is their turn to get tested.

Last Thursday, the testing administrators had passed out all 500 tickets before 11 a.m., according to the testing administrators at the site. For some, these have been inconvenient conditions.

I woke up at 10 a.m. to get tested although I was told to get there at 8 a.m. because of the amount of people who show up,” Linney Osias, a senior at FAMU, said. Luckily I was able to get a ticket which I then went home and waited to be called. After two hours of waiting I received a text stating I was ready for testing.”

When asked about the struggles of getting tested,  Tanya Tatum, director of the university’s Student Health Services, said they are doing the best they can.

Were clearing over 500 people a day,” she said. Weve got people that are coming in that are registering people for the registration system at 7:30 in the morning even though our test site doesnt open until 9 a.m.”

FAMU is one of the few free testing sites in the city and it accepts people of all ages. Tatum encourages everyone to continue coming out despite the long wait.

I think its really important that people make the effort to come out and get tested,” she said. Weve got a really high rate of community transmission here in Tallahassee and the only way to break that is to find out if you’re positive and take the precautions to keep from continuing to spread [the virus].”