Ron DeSantis Says Florida Could Send Up to a Million Home Covid Tests
(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state will send out as many as 1 million home Covid-19 tests, prioritizing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and eventually the state’s seniors generally.
But in keeping with DeSantis’s general approach to testing, the program will be smaller than those in other states and won’t do much to help healthier, younger populations such as students. The batch will reach a small fraction of the state’s 4.6 million seniors and 21.8 million residents.
Speaking Thursday in West Palm Beach, DeSantis said he’s open to distributing additional tests “if the demand is still there,” but he also predicted a potential glut of rapid tests after omicron passes.
“If omicron goes up and down as quickly as it has in other places, you could find yourself with a lot of tests on the market all of a sudden in another month or six weeks,” he said.
In recent days, DeSantis has repeatedly teased plans to release new testing guidelines, which will emphasize Covid-19 testing for those with risk factors. The Florida Republican has argued that widespread testing, including of asymptomatic low-risk people, is no longer needed and contributes to long lines, bottlenecks and runs on rapid tests at pharmacies.
His approach puts him at odds with federal leadership and many school and corporate policies, which have emphasized widespread testing to contain outbreaks and protect others who may be at greater risk.
The home-test announcement comes after Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried -- a Democrat seeking her party’s nomination to run for governor this year -- accused DeSantis’s Department of Health last month of stockpiling tests and allowing them to expire.
Asked about the tests, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie confirmed there were 800,000 to a million Abbott Laboratories rapid tests that had indeed expired, but that the government was seeking approval from the company to still use them if appropriate. Unlike the at-home tests, the Abbott tests need to be administered by a health-care worker.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.