With 2022 ahead of us and the highly contagious Omicron variant spreading throughout the country, you may want to get tested prior to any travel or events. While local pharmacies have mitigated long wait times by booking testing appointments for customers, state testing sites are experiencing an increase in demand, with lines growing longer as cases rise. Additionally, every household in the U.S. can now order four tests from the government—for free—through the United States Postal Service.
If you want to skip the lines at testing sites, it may be worth your while to schedule an appointment at an urgent care center or local pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens. Some pharmacies have at-home testing kits; however, there's a shortage of those right now, too. So call ahead to see if any are in stock at your local pharmacy.
Here's how to order your four free testing kits via USPS, plus a list of testing sites that are open and the types of tests they will have available. As always, health officials and physicians emphasize that vaccination—and getting a booster shot, if you're eligible—remains the best way to stay safe. Many of the locations below also offer vaccines and boosters. For a list of vaccination sites, click here.
Click here to order four tests for your household. Orders will ship in 7-12 days.
1845 34th St., Sarasota
This site has PCR and rapid tests available. No appointment needed, however, wait times have been averaging 30-40 minutes. This site is walk-up testing only.
5900 Greenwood Ave., North Port
This North Port testing site will be open except for New Year's Day. Both PCR and rapid tests are available, with no appointment needed. The site is walk-up testing only.
326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice
Both PCR and rapid tests are available at this drive-thru site beginning Wed., Jan. 12. The site will be open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment needed.
2700 12th St., Sarasota
This drive-through testing site has been experiencing some long lines as cases increase. The new average wait time has been two to three hours. The site only offers PCR testing, which takes anywhere from 2-3 days to get results. No appointment needed.
5461 Factory Shops Blvd., Ellenton
This walk-up testing site is now open south of the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, in the Ellenton Premium Outlets parking lot. Testing is free, but appointments are required. The site is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here to book a rapid or PCR test.
5400 Bradenton Road, Sarasota
The old dog track's parking lot is now a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site. Both PCR and rapid tests are administered; however, there's been a 20-30 minute wait in the last few days.
Depending on the location, CVS offers both PCR and rapid Covid-19 tests at the drive-thru and inside the store. If you schedule an appointment online, you'll have little to no wait time.
Walgreens offers rapid and PCR tests in the drive-thru or in the store. Schedule an appointment online, which can significantly shorten your wait time.
SMH's urgent care centers will be open on New Year's Day. You can get a PCR or rapid test without an appointment, but if you'd like to use SMH's "save my spot" check-in tool, you can.
Home testing kits are also available at local pharmacies for about $20 per kit. The only problem is, they've been sold out or in storage for a while—so make sure to call before you head out.
If you are looking to get a Covid-19 vaccine, there are a number of sites in Sarasota-Manatee. For our list of local vaccination sites, click here.