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Amid a shortage of COVID-19 tests that left huge swaths of the U.S. facing bare pharmacy shelves, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed a million testing kits to expire in a state stockpile.
The head of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie made the shocking admission Thursday during a press conference alongside DeSantis. Guthrie said, “We had between 800,000 and a million Abbott test kits in our warehouse that did expire.”
Despite an urgent December demand from Miami-Dade County for tests, Guthrie said no one had wanted the tests, which expired between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30. He said Thursday, “We tried to get them out. But there was not a demand for it.” Lines for tests in Florida stretched for hours in December and January.
Florida’s Agriculture Secretary made the first mention of the tests a week ago, leveling accusations against DeSantis of hoarding kits on the verge of expiration. The governor responded by calling the allegation “bizarre.”
News of the tests’ expiration came the same day the Florida governor appeared on Fox and Friends to deride Joe Biden’s “failed” coronavirus response and unveil a plan to send a million tests out to Florida senior citizens. He acknowledged later in the day that his initiative would be hampered by the erosion of the state’s test supply.:“We actually wanted to send a bunch of those [tests] to long-term care facilities at the beginning when we got them.”
Earlier this week, DeSantis’ controversial surgeon general advised the public that fewer people should be tested—only the most vulnerable patients, whom he called “high-value.” He said children and people without symptoms should skip the tests altogether, flying in the face of CDC guidance on coronavirus testing.