Florida to Send 1 Million At-Home COVID Tests to Nursing Homes, Seniors: DeSantis

Similar to a message from Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo earlier in the week, DeSantis urged healthy residents in Florida to not rush out and get tested

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Florida will be sending out 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests to nursing homes and long-term care facilities for seniors, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

DeSantis made the announcement at a rehabilitation center in West Palm Beach, where he was joined by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie and Simone Marstiller, the secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration.

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.

Similar to a message from Ladapo earlier in the week, DeSantis urged healthy residents in Florida to not rush out and get tested.

"Testing is supposed to lead to a clinical result," DeSantis said Thursday. "Clearly, when you're talking about long-term care facilities, you're talking about senior communities, those are the demographics that are more likely to take a positive test and parlay that into treatment."

Ladapo said the state is following a “sensible public health" campaign by focusing on testing only those who are at risk or showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty from Florida International University earlier in the week said it’s dangerous to discourage testing.

“We do need to identify anyone who is spreading the virus, so they stop spreading it," Marty said. "There is no advantage to spreading the virus."

On Monday, DeSantis called on the federal government to distribute more monoclonal antibody treatments and vowed that schools in the state will remain open amid the surge in the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

"The federal government has cornered the entire market," DeSantis said. "We do not believe that the federal government should be holding back any more medications, we think we have to offer this, particularly for our elderly population."

The governor also reiterated that Florida's schools will stay open and won't be closing for remote learning despite the omicron variant.

"It'd be so damaging now to do that," DeSantis said. "Kids need to be in school, they do not need to be doing any crazy mitigation, just let them be kids."

NBC 6 and AP
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