HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- Widespread coronavirus testing could be available for first responders in Hillsborough County as early as this week.
- COVID-19 IMPACTS ON: Airports, Transportation Systems | Sports Events and Teams | Attractions | School Districts and Universities
- FREE CHARTER WIFI: Charter Communications to Offer Free Broadband, WiFi Access to Families with Elementary, College Students
- COMPLETE COVERAGE: Spectrum News | CDC | Florida Department of Health
These are rapid testing kits that will determine who has the virus, which will help the department pinpoint who may have been exposed.
As COVID-19 quickly spread across the country, first responders accounted for some of the earliest cases, even here in Hillsborough County.
"We had four members test positive for COVID-19. We've had over 60 members tested. We've had numerous folks exposed, isolated, or quarantined," Deputy Chief Jason Dougherty said.
That's why it was so important for Hillsborough County to test all of its first responders. The county shelled out about $250,000 for 44,000 rapid COVID-19 testing kits.
"The test will tell them whether they've been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or whether they have COVID-19," Dougherty said.
First responders in municipalities like Tampa will also have access to the rapid testing kits and so will staffers at nursing homes.
The county ordered the kits from American Biomedica, a New York-based company.
While this particular test hasn't been reviewed by the FDA, the government allowed it to be used under an emergency act.
Several of those testing companies have come under fire for results that yielded false positives and false negatives. However, according to Chief Dougherty, any results that come back will have to be confirmed by the Florida Department of Health.
"It's an important step for members to give them a piece of mind but also to protect the citizens in the community and make them feel safe and comfortable with our folks responding to the emergency," Dougherty said.
The testing kits could arrive as early as Wednesday.