Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisMike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Gov. Ron DeSantis said that state officials discovered close to a million expired COVID-19 tests.
The admission on Thursday came as he announced a plan to send a million at home tests to Florida seniors.
DeSantis asked the Biden administration to extend the expiration date on the tests.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration admitted during a press conference on Thursday that between 800,000 to a million COVID-19 tests stockpiled by the state had expired in a warehouse, while simultaneously announcing a plan to send up to a million COVID tests to seniors.
Kevin Guthrie, the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, joined DeSantis at the press conference and admitted the gaffe in response to questions from reporters.
“We had between 800,000 and a million test kits, Abbott rapid test kits, in our warehouse that did expire,” Guthrie said, adding that they expired in the last week of December. He explained that the reason was that there wasn’t adequate demand to use them. DeSantis added that he is asking the Biden administration to extend the expiration dates on the batch of tests.
The purpose of the press conference, attended by Insider, was to announce plans to send 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other residences with high numbers of seniors in the state.
The stockpile of expired tests was first probed by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nominaion in hopes of defeating DeSantis.
On December 30, according to the Florida Phoenix, Fried said that “Governor DeSantis’ Department of Health has a significant number of COVID-19 tests stockpiled that are set to expire imminently.”
“There’s no known public information about these tests or how soon they expire,” Fried said at the time. “With Omicron infections exploding throughout Florida, I beg of him to release these tests immediately to local counties and cities, and to stand up state-sponsored testing sites. To let these tests expire while Floridians anxiously wait for hours in testing lines for local tests that are running out.”
DeSantis has stood in opposition to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response, rejecting vaccine requirements and issuing new statewide testing guidelines, which advise young, healthy, asymptomatic people with COVID-19 to skip testing.
Earlier this week, DeSantis also criticized the federal government’s plan to set up additional federal testing sites and buy 500 million at-home testing kits, saying that only vulnerable communities should be prioritized for testing.
“The point of matter is not every single person needs to be going out always getting tested. You have healthy people. That’s not a good strategy,” DeSantis told Fox News on Thursday. “But what is a good strategy is to have these at-home tests available for our vulnerable population.”
DeSantis’ office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Kimberly Leonard contributed.
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