Gov. sticks with ‘no symptoms, no test’ guideline as COVID-19 surge continues

Florida's guidelines are no symptoms, skip a test, but experts says with omicron being more contagious than the delta variant, COVID testing is necessary at any point in time.

MIAMI – Miami’s Mayor Francis Suarez appeared on the ABC television’s “GMA3″ Friday morning that the city’s hospitals are filling up fast and that tests remain in high demand.

As the cases continue to climb, it is testing that remains the top issue, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down on the state’s new “no symptoms, no test” guideline.

“Like testing has been prior to COVID. It’s usually you feel like you are sick and then you get tested,” DeSantis said at a Friday press conference.

But what experts in epidemiology have explained since the coronavirus appeared on the scene in 2020 is that people can be contagious before they have symptoms.

University of Massachusetts medical school’s Dr. Nate Hafer says for those who choose to get tested, options include antigen tests and PCRs.

“That’s what makes this virus so difficult,” he said.

Suarez, now the president of the United States Conference of Mayors told “GMA3″ that with omicron being more contagious than delta that hospitalizations have gone up because a larger part of the population is contracting the virus.

Hospital administrators say that COVID patients are not as sick with the omicron variant as they were with delta, but just like the previous wave, the vast majority are unvaccinated.

“We are filling up hospitals and it is mostly a crisis among the unvaccinated. The data shows that if you are vaccinated and boosted that you are far, far less likely to be severely impacted by COVID,” said Broward County District 5 Commissioner Steve Geller.

What it comes to which test is best, Hafer says PCRs are a better option when you first face an exposure risk.

“Because the PCR test is amplifying the genetic material, it is usually sensitive enough to detect the virus and the infection early on,” he said.

At-home antigens work well, he says, when you are showing symptoms and when testing toward the end of infection.

“Because the PCR test is so sensitive, it could be picking up small amounts of genetic material from the virus long after you are contagious, up to weeks after the infection, whereas the antigen test, once that infection is cleared and you are not really contagious anymore, it is going to be negative,” Hafer said.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."