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Fried: Florida DEM allowed 800,000 to 1 million at-home COVID test kits to expire instead of passing them out to residents

Photo: Nikki Fried
Photo: Nikki Fried

Some 800,000 to 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests were allowed to expire in Florida between Dec. 26 and 30th instead of being distributed to residents. 

That time period correlated with the beginning of the Omicron surge in the state. 

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says the DeSantis administration should have at the very least tried to swap these test kits out for ones with later expiration dates. 

“What happened to calling up the CVS, and Walgreens and our hospitals and our nursing homes and our local departments of health and saying we’ve got all these tests that are sitting here about to expire. Can we exchange these tests so that you can use the ones that are about to expire first? And let the state have the ones that will expire in the future.”

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Fried says even without a swap, the governor had a duty to release those test kits in the last few days in December when people were waiting hours and sometimes days to get tested. 

“Even if he wasn’t doing the swap, get them out. And the fact that they were still not expired at the end of December when families and people that were standing in lines for four or five hours. Those tests were available at that moment. And he chose not to move. And then tried to cover it up. And then lied about it."

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Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie says that his department tried to pass out the tests before they expired but, “there was no demand for them.” 

The Florida Department of Health issued new testing guidelines on Thursday aimed at reducing demand at testing sites. 

The guidelines recommend asymptomatic people who have had exposure to the virus not get tested for COVID-19.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.