TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida will give nursing homes and senior centers 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests as a way to prevent the spread of the new omicron variant.
“This variant is spreading much faster than other variants, but is less lethal,” DeSantis said at a press conference he held with other Florida officials in West Palm Beach Thursday.
The governor said the virus was “not something that’s going to vanish off the face of the earth, but it’s going to be something we’re going to live with,” but was something the state “with prevention, with treatments, with acquired immunity.”
“We’ve obtained tests and we’re directing them to where the tests are most likely to have a benefit, which is in communities and in environments where high risk individuals reside,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said.
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said nursing homes and long term care facilities should receive shipments of at-home tests this weekend. He said more than 800,000 COVID-19 test kits expired last month due to low demand.
“We tried to get them out prior to that, but there was not a demand for (it),” Guthrie said. “We did ask Abbott [the drugmaker] and the federal government for another three month extension on those so that we can use those tests. We are still waiting to hear about that from HHS.”
The governor’s press conference came as the nation marked the 1-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riots. DeSantis told reporters it was “not something that I’ve been concerned about in my job here, because quite frankly it’s not something that most Floridians have been have been concerned about.”
“They’re concerned about their jobs, education, inflation, gas prices, all those things, and I wish the Congress of the United States would be concerned about those pressing issues as well,” DeSantis said.