Florida will send 1 million home COVID-19 tests to nursing homes and long-term care facilities for the elderly, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.
DeSantis made the announcement at a rehabilitation center in West Palm Beach, where he was joined by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie and Simone Marstiller , the secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Starting Thursday, the self-administered tests will be sent to every retirement home and long-term care facility in the state, DeSantis said. They can then request additional kits if needed.
The state will also begin making the kits available to senior communities.
Similar to a message from Ladapo earlier in the week, DeSantis urged healthy Florida residents not to rush and get tested.
“The tests are supposed to lead to a clinical outcome,” DeSantis said Thursday. “Obviously when you’re talking about long-term care facilities, you’re talking about senior communities, those are the demographics that are most likely to test positive and turn that into treatment.”
Ladapo said the state is following a “reasonable public health” campaign by focusing on testing only those at risk for or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Earlier in the week, infectious disease expert Dr Aileen Marty of Florida International University said discouraging testing was dangerous.
“We need to identify anyone who is spreading the virus, so they stop spreading it,” Marty said. “There is no benefit in spreading the virus.”
On Monday, DeSantis called on the federal government to distribute more monoclonal antibody treatments and promised schools across the state would stay open amid the surge in the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.
“The feds have cornered the whole market,” DeSantis said. “We don’t think the federal government should withhold more drugs, we think we need to offer that, especially to our elderly population.”
The governor also reiterated that schools in Florida will remain open and not close for remote learning despite the omicron variant.
“It would be so damaging now to do that,” DeSantis said. “Kids need to be in school, they don’t need to do crazy mitigations, just let them be kids.”