Coronavirus response: Florida expanding COVID-19 testing capabilities

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that the state is expanding the availability of coronavirus testing kits in Florida.

“We all know that there were CDC tests and everything,” he said. “I wanted to make sure Florida was acting quickly on its own to do this.”

The governor says he directed state officials to purchase 2,500 testing kits. Each of those kits allows 500 tests, but each person needs two tests. DeSantis says the kits are expected to give labs the capacity to test up to about 625,000 people.

“If you’re somebody who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, cough, shortness of breath – and you speak to a physician and they think that you should be tested for it, we have opportunities to do that,” DeSantis said. “So get it done if you need to. The CDC, when this came out weeks ago, linked it to different travel in certain countries. And obviously, if you’ve done that, that’s still something that could be very significant…but you don’t have to have traveled. If you have the symptoms and the doctor recommends it, you can receive a test. And we want folks to be doing that if they’re experiencing the symptoms.”

According to DeSantis, the state will also be doing voluntary “sentinel testing” of people who may be younger or healthier. The goal is to have a better understanding of the impact coronavirus has on populations who are just mildly symptomatic.

Gov. DeSantis says he ordered the new test kits knowing there are going to be more cases in the coming weeks.

“Just from the context based on the cases so far, you’re anticipating more. So we want to make sure we have the increased testing capacity and we didn’t want to wait for anyone else to do it,” he said.

The governor says the manufacturer of the test kits told state officials that Florida has purchased more than all of the other states combined.

During his news conference, the governor also announced he’s activating the Florida National Guard to help communities that are being impacted by the coronavirus.

“We will be – probably over the next 24 hours – activating certain components of the Florida National Guard to assist in our efforts to support our local communities that are affected by COVID-19,” DeSantis said. “We’re working on the shape and scope of that.”

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