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Crowds line up for COVID-19 tests on New Year’s Day

WWSB Tampa logo WWSB Tampa 1/1/2022 Shane Battis
The Bradenton Convention Center is the only option for people to get a test in either Sarasota or Manatee County. © Provided by WWSB Tampa The Bradenton Convention Center is the only option for people to get a test in either Sarasota or Manatee County.

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - If you’re new year’s resolution is trying to be more patient, there’s a spot in Manatee County where you can put that goal to the test.

Lines for COVID-19 tests are stacking up this holiday weekend, including at the Bradenton Convention Center. It’s the only place in Manatee or Sarasota County where residents can get tested, so a big crowd showed

“It took about two hours,” Martha Santana said.

Not a short wait, but shorter than the roughly two and a half hour waits from the same site on New Year’s Eve. Residents in line told ABC7 they weren’t too bothered by the wait.

“The line was basically moving pretty fast and it’s not that hot and there’s a nice breeze, so it wasn’t bad at all,” Santana said.

Even still, why spend the holiday afternoon out here? Well, that’s because almost everyone we talked to in line said they had to get tested this weekend.

Quite a few people are getting ready to set sail on cruises, and they can’t go without following the safety protocols.

“I’m fully vaccinated,” Santana said. “I have my booster shot but you still need to show a negative test.”

So, it’s now or never.

The convention center seemed to be the only option for most people. Every Sarasota County location closed for the holiday and one woman said she tried booking a test through a pharmacy but found they were almost all booked up until later in the week.

“Because that’s the first place I went and that was so easy,” Heather Mills said. “You pull in--but January 5th--only two of probably 15 locations here had any left.”

So, for these people, it’s worth the wait.

The Bradenton Convention Center will be open during its normal hours on Sunday, Jan. 2 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Sarasota County sites will not resume testing until Monday. Below are the normal testing hours for Sarasota County locations that will resume after the holiday:

  • Former Sarasota Kennel Club, 5400 Old Bradenton Rd, Sarasota. This drive-through site is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. offering rapid and PCR COVID-19 testing. This site is operated by Nomi Health.
  • Robert L. Taylor Community Complex parking lot, 1845 34th Street, Sarasota. This walk-up site is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. PCR COVID-19 testing is available throughout the day. This site is operated by Lab Services.
  • Dallas White Park, 5900 Greenwood Ave, North Port. This walk-up site is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. PCR COVID-19 testing is available throughout the day. This site is operated by Lab Services.

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