DeSantis to send 1 million COVID tests to nursing homes and seniors

Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated that the state wants to reserve testing for people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or are highly vulnerable, like nursing home residents and the elderly.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will be sending out 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests, prioritizing nursing homes, long-term care facilities and senior citizens in need of tests.

He made the announcement at a news conference in West Palm Beach, standing behind a placard that said “Seniors First” at the Rehabilitation Center of the Palm Beaches at 301 Northpoint Parkway.

Starting Thursday, the self-administered tests will be sent to every nursing home and long-term care facility in the state, DeSantis said. They can then request additional kits as needed.

The state will also start making the kits available to senior communities.

DeSantis was joined at the announcement by state surgeon general Joseph Ladapo, emergency management director Kevin Guthrie and Simone Marstiller, secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration.

The governor reiterated Ladapo’s messaging from earlier this week that Floridians without COVID-19 symptoms should not rush out to get tested. That guidance has been criticized by some medical experts who say testing is still crucial in preventing the spread of the virus.

“Our view on testing is if you are just young and healthy, you don’t need to be running out and getting tested every day,” DeSantis said.

“If you’re just somebody who has no symptoms and aren’t at risk for anything significant, to be going out and testing a lot is something not considered high-value testing.”

Ladapo said Thursday that Florida is practicing “sensible public health” by prioritizing members of the community in greater need of testing.

DeSantis was asked if he has been tested for COVID-19 recently and he said he has not since he hasn’t experienced symptoms.

The governor said the number of people who end up on ventilators due to the omicron variant is much lower than during the summer surge of the delta variant. He said the most severely ill patients in hospitals still tend to be suffering from the delta variant.

[To see the state’s official guidance on testing, click here.]

DeSantis is also asking for more monoclonal antibody treatments for Floridians.

“As you see prevalence go up you see the demand for the monoclonal go up and we want to meet the demand for high-risk individuals,” he said.

On Wednesday, the state reported nearly 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last week, Florida broke several records for the number of cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began in March 2020, reaching nearly 76,000 new cases on New Year’s Eve.

Off the topic of coronavirus, DeSantis was also asked about the fatal Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol from a year ago. The Republican governor said he doesn’t think many Floridians are interested in it and that he wouldn’t be watching any of Thursday’s coverage, calling it “Christmas” for “the D.C.-New York media” and saying it presented an opportunity to “smear anyone who ever supported Donald Trump.”