November 24, 2020
SUN CITY CENTER, Florida – Over 1,700 people have received a free COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test as part of a community initiative offered by South Bay Hospital in partnership with the Sun City Center Emergency Squad, Sun City Center Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.), the Florida State Health Department and many other community partners. These events have grown in interest and efficiency with over 800 people tested November 24 during the three-hour event.
“The community ran a very successful testing site in October,” said Shannon Piatkowski, South Bay Hospital’s Interim Vice President of Operations. “We were able to test over 900 people in a span of six hours. We were amazed when we realized we had tested over 800 today in just three hours. There were many families, visitors from out of state and people of all age ranges that drove through the event. We understand the community’s need and want to be able to continue to provide this service.”
These tests, provided by the State of Florida, were sent to Sun City Center at the request of the Florida Governor’s Office. The tests determine if a person is carrying the COVID-19 antigen. COVID-19 antigens are present in the body if a person is currently infected with the virus. This is not an antibody test. A swab is used on the inside of both nostrils and then tested immediately for the antigen reaction.
“We are so pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to our community,” said Sheldon Barr, South Bay Hospital Chief Executive Officer. “Those who received the test were primarily from South Hillsborough county, but we did have people who travelled from as far south as Sarasota and as far north as Brooksville. We look forward to being able to provide additional drive thru events in December.”
Barr, a registered nurse, joined numerous other South Bay Hospital caregivers and local community volunteers to assist with swabbing participants. People remained in their vehicles for the duration of the test and were provided the results within 15 minutes.
Barr and Piatkowski shared that they have already begun scheduling additional testing events in December and those dates will be released soon. Tests results from today’s event are provided to the state health department.