There are multiple COVID-19 testing options in our area.

With COVID-19 infection numbers on the rise and the holiday season upon us, now more than ever COVID-19 testing is a must. But where can one go to get a test, which test is more accurate and what are the costs?

First, let’s explain the difference between the tests that are available. PCR tests and antigen tests are both diagnostic tests, which means that they can be used to determine whether you currently have an active coronavirus infection.

PCR tests detect the presence of the virus’ genetic material using a technique called reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR. For this test, a sample may be collected through a nasal or throat swab, or a saliva sample may be used. The sample is typically sent to a laboratory for testing. PCR tests are highly accurate. However, it can take days to over a week to get the results of a PCR test.

Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the coronavirus. These are rapid tests because you get your results in less than an hour.

“This is a test that does not take longer than 15 minutes,” said Dr. Sonia Ruiz of Bloomingdale Pediatric Associates. “It’s done in-house. I charge $50 for this test and I offer it to anyone needing a rapid COVID test.”

If you’d rather do your COVID test in the privacy of your own home, Quest Diagnostics can send a test to your home.

“Accessible, high-quality COVID-19 diagnostic testing is essential to containing the spread of COVID-19,” said Jay Wohlgemuth, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Quest Diagnostics. “With our new QuestDirect COVID-19 Active Infection self-collection kit, anyone can access a high-quality COVID-19 test with access to interpretation and referral into care from a physician. Additionally, individuals can receive a self-collection kit either at home or at a nearby Walmart drive-through location for the ultimate in speed, safety and convenience.”

BayCare Urgent Care centers also offer an effective and reliable rapid test that can detect both COVID-19 and the flu. The test is available to asymptomatic people wishing to confirm they are negative for COVID-19 before traveling or visiting loved ones during the holiday season.

This service, which is an extension of Tampa International Airport’s testing site operated by BayCare, will offer a real-time RT-PCR test that detects both the flu and COVID-19 with the same reliability as a lab-based test. Patients can receive test results in 30 minutes.

Due to limited supply, RT-PCR tests will be available on a reservation basis. Reservations can be made using Save Your Spot® at https://baycare.org/services/urgent-care. The test will not be billed to insurance but will be available as a self-pay service for $150.

“We’re looking forward to offering this service for patients and giving them an accurate diagnosis in real time,” said Jim Cote, senior vice president for ambulatory services. “This service will give people a peace of mind as they plan their holiday travels and celebrations with their families.”

Testing Locations:

⦁ Bloomingdale Pediatric Associates, 4316 Bell Shoals Rd. in Valrico. Call for appointment at 684-1881. Testing cost is $50.

⦁ Get Well Express Urgent Care, 1908 James L. Redman Pkwy. in Plant City. Call 717-7425. Testing cost is $59 without insurance.

⦁ Quest Diagnostic home testing. Visit https://questdirect.questdiagnostics.com/.

⦁ BayCare Urgent Care, 10125 Big Bend Rd. in Riverview. Call for an appointment at 605-3200. Costs may vary due to which test you are requesting. Some tests are billed to insurance, while others are self-pay.