PolitiFact

Politifact: Were Charlie Crist's Comments on Expired COVID-19 Tests Misleading?

In an advertisement on social media, Crist said the Governor "keeps pulling right-wing partisan stunts in Florida, like letting millions of COVID-19 tests expire"

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As COVID-19 deaths went up in January 2022, Democratic candidate for Governor and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis over tests that expired in a Florida warehouse.

But his attack was misleading.

In an advertisement on social media, Crist said the Governor "keeps pulling right-wing partisan stunts in Florida, like letting millions of COVID-19 tests expire."

"This is pretty exaggerated on a few different fronts," said managing editor Katie Sanders.

The first exaggeration is on the word millions. Another candidate for Governor, current Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, said Florida had a large number of tests set to expire - between 800,000 and one million.

Crist's campaign told Politifact that the extra "s" in millions was a typo and the text was corrected to say "up to a million."

"There was just a lack of demand from the testing sites around the state," Sanders said. "It wasn’t until the outbreak of the Omicron variant that people started to line up in droves trying to get these rapid tests.”

There's also important context left out of Crist's claims. When the Omicron variant came to Florida, the drug company Abbott requested an extension of the expiration date of March 2020.

The Food and Drug Administration said the tests could be used up to that point. By early February, nearly all of the tests were distributed.

“For only getting part of the story right, an element of the story right but distorting crucial information that would give the bigger picture, we rated that mostly false," Sanders said.

Crist, who served one term as Florida's Governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011, represents Florida's 13th Congressional district but is not seeking re-election.

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