TAMPA, Fla. – According to Physician Partners of America, its new COVID-19 testing site on E. Fletcher Ave. can return results within 72 hours – or in as little as 24 hours with VIP testing.

What You Need To Know

  • PPOA offers drive-thru testing with results in 72 hours or VIP in-home testing with results in 24 hours

  • All insurance accepted for 72-hour test; VIP tests costs $300

  • For appointments and more information, click here

"As an organization, we recognized that there was a need in the Tampa Bay market, at least, where we could offer faster results to people who either needed to get back to work or get back to their families," said Jace Johnson, PPOA's vice president of clinic operations.

PPOA said since its drive-thru site opened Monday, about 20 cars a day have come through. Johnson said it's expected turnaround times will continue to remain low if traffic picks up.

"First and foremost, it's our capacity in our labs and the ability to run as many samples as we can, but we also do have control measures in place, such as by appointment only that we're doing these tests," Johnson explained.

PPOA Vice President of Compliance and Risk Rekha Rajan-Wilson said there's also a demand for VIP testing, which involves health care workers coming right to patients' front doors.

"They're asking us to come into their home, test the families, getting them results within 24 hours. They're in the comfort of their own home, so I think they feel a little bit more comfortable that way," Rajan-Wilson said.

That 72-hour turnaround time is days shorter than some of the estimates for national labs and providers. For instance, Quest Diagnostics told Spectrum Bay News 9 its current wait time is more than two days for "Priority 1" patients and seven days for all other patients.

CVS Health said samples collected at its drive-thru sites are sent to third party labs, which are seeing high demand and backlogs. As a result, its turnaround times can be 6-10 days or longer. A spokesperson for LabCorp said it's able to get people their results in 2-3 days, with a shorter wait for hospitalized patients. 

While those labs can be tasked with processing many thousands of results per day, PPOA said its site can perform 700 per day. 

"It goes by the lab's capacity. If they dictate to us how much they can run in a day, we don't go over. We are not over-promising," Rajan-Wilson said. "In the community, this is a very sensitive issue. Sitting around, waiting for a test for 7, 10, 12 days is just very overwhelming. So, we just make sure we communicate with the lab directly."

The larger labs have recently announced steps to help cut down on wait times. Quest said Wednesday the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a new lab technique to speed up extracting viral RNA from specimens. The lab said in a news release that during the next several weeks, this is expected to both increase capacity of how many COVID-19 tests can be performed each day by 35,000 and cut down turnaround times to one day for "Priority 1" patients and 2-3 days for other patients.

CVS said in a statement, "We are actively engaged in discussions with potential new lab partners that would expand our network of third-party labs in order to support our commitment to providing access to testing during this time of peak demand and beyond."

And on Friday, LabCorp announced it received EUA for sample pooling, which can be used when demand on labs exceeds capacity. A spokesperson said in a statement, "We continue to be focused on reducing the time it takes for a patient to receive their result, and as additional equipment and supplies become available, we expect the average time to improve."

PPOA said its Tampa site is expected to remain open as long as there's a community need.

Appointments are required.

Testing is open to anyone with or without symptoms. All insurances are accepted for the test that returns results in 72 hours. If a patient doesn't have insurance, the test costs $125 in cash.

The VIP test costs $300.