COVID-19 coronavirus testing collection site at Raymond James Stadium to open Wednesday

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The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group (EPG) Monday voted to move forward with plans to stand up a large-scale, COVID-19 coronavirus testing collection site at Raymond James Stadium.

The site may open Wednesday if – and only if – the County has received from state government the necessary face masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protection gear necessary to protect health care providers who conduct the specimen collecting.

Acknowledging that demand for testing will quickly outnumber the 900 collection kits received over the weekend, EPG members nevertheless thought it critical to move forward with opening the site in order to collect data and identify any trends in the virus transmission.

In other action, the EPG asked for a draft of language for a possible curfew that they could consider at their next meeting on Thursday, March 26, at 1:30 p.m. They also requested that research begin on stay-at-home orders that could be considered at a future meeting.

A state of local emergency is in effect in Hillsborough County in response to COVID-19. Under this declaration, County Administrator Mike Merrill has the authority to carry out all emergency responsibilities delegated by the EPG, including taking whatever prudent action is necessary to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents during declared emergencies.

In addition to directives set forth by Gov. Ron DeSantis, these Administrator Orders currently in place in Hillsborough County:

  • All public or private gatherings, including community, civic, public leisure, faith-based events, sporting events, concerts and any similar events that bring together more than 10 people in a single room or a single space at the same time are prohibited. This prohibition includes fitness centers, health clubs, private clubs and theaters, but does not include venues that provide essential goods or services such as grocery stores, hospitals, medical facilities, pharmacies, gas stations, bank/credit unions and shelters; nor does it include restaurants in which capacity restrictions are governed by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-68.
  • Any gathering of 10 or less people should have the capacity to provide individuals with a 6 foot distance between each person.
  • Restaurants, private clubs, or any other establishment may provide food or drink (alcoholic beverage sales are governed as provided by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-71) services for take-out, delivery, or drive-through only, 24 hours a day, subject to adherence to all sanitation and social distancing protocols for COVID-19 as set forth in Centers for Disease Control and Florida Department of Health guidelines. Such establishments may operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery, drive-through, or take-out services. Employees, janitorial personnel, contractors, and delivery personnel shall be allowed access to such establishments for the purposes of delivery, drive-through, or take-out services.

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