Answers to Your Questions About COVID-19 Community Testing

May 4, 2020

Hillsborough County, Fla. (April 30, 2020) – On April 28, 2020, Hillsborough County significantly expanded its point-in-time testing for COVID-19 coronavirus. This means that anyone who wants to be tested can pre-register to get tested for free at community sites. Here are answers to basic questions about community testing.

Who can be tested at the public testing sites?
Any Hillsborough County resident can request an appointment. You do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms to be tested.

Why are you testing persons who aren’t sick or who don’t think they have been exposed to COVID-19?
Research shows that many people who have the virus may be asymptomatic, that is, showing no symptoms. Asymptomatic persons can unknowingly spread the virus to others. Public health officials say expanded testing is crucial to making decisions about reopening the County and developing policies to protect vulnerable populations and avoid a second wave of cases. Having a better idea of how many people currently have the virus will give Hillsborough County emergency leaders more information to make these important decisions.

Is there a cost?
The tests at the public testing sites are free. Insurance is NOT required, nor is a doctor’s note or prescription.

Why must I make an appointment to be tested?
A reservation is necessary to ensure that time slots are available at the testing site, to increase the speed of the actual testing process, and so that you receive important instructions. When your appointment is booked, you will receive a confirmation code that you will be asked to provide upon arrival at the testing site.

What does “point-in-time” testing mean?
The free tests available at the County’s community testing sites are intended to detect whether an individual has the virus at the moment the sample was collected.

How old do you have to be to be tested?
There is no age limit, however minors must be accompanied by an authorized adult, such as a parent or guardian.

When will the results be known?
Test results are not immediate. It usually takes 7 to 10 days, and in some cases longer. In the meantime, persons who were ill at the time they took the test should self-isolate until the diagnosis is known. All residents, including those who are asymptomatic, are reminded to wear face coverings while around other people in public.

What happens if I test positive?
You will be contacted and provided instructions.

Will the test show if I had the virus in the past but didn’t know it?
No. Those types of tests are serology tests, which look for the presence of antibodies – specific proteins made in response to infections. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more information about COVID-19 serology testing.

Where can I get antibody testing?
Start by speaking with your doctor. Antibody testing is not offered by Hillsborough County or the Florida Department of Health.

If I was exposed to someone with the virus in the last 14 days, will a negative result on this test mean I don’t have COVID-19?
No. It can take up to 14 days between when you are exposed to the virus and when you start to get sick.  If you don’t have symptoms and receive a negative test result during this time, this does not mean that you were not exposed. If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 it is important that you remain isolated from other people for 14 days from that exposure, regardless of a negative test result.

Where are the County’s community testing sites?
The public testing sites are located at Raymond James Stadium, and at Hillsborough County Community Resource Centers in East Tampa, Plant City, and SouthShore. At-home testing may be an option for certain residents who cannot travel to a testing location.

What else should I know?
Bring a photo ID with name and date of birth for all persons being tested (can be Florida driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport). Although pedestrians can be accommodated at some sites, it is best to arrive in a personal vehicle as the majority of the testing is conducted via drive-thru. Limit vehicle passengers to those needing a test.

How do I make a reservation for a test?
Call (813) 272-5900 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Note that call-takers will ask a series of questions. This is to help determine the best testing resource for each individual.

For more information, including what to expect when you arrive at the testing site, go to, and click on “Testing & If You’re Sick”.

Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit and sign up for the HCFL Alert system. Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County’s main information line.