Charlie Crist calls for expedited coronavirus testing

Florida only has three testing sites.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Christ sent a letter Thursday calling for federal agencies to work together to expedite the coronavirus testing process.

Crist addressed the letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.

“While state and local health departments are managing quarantines, conducting samples, and disseminating information to the communities they serve, there are only three places in the State of Florida providing screening for COVID-19 as of the writing of this letter,” Crist wrote. “We need more testing locations, and we need private sector providers to be part of the solution.”

Expanding access to test kits to provider laboratories would increase the number and rate at which Floridians could be tested, according to Crist.

Crist is asking for the FDA and the CDC to work together to provide:

— A timeline for when CDC-developed test kits will be made available to additional laboratories that can handle infectious disease and the complexity of the COVID-19 test

— An accounting of the delayed availability of COVID-19 test kits

— Updated guidance giving additional laboratories specific instructions for how to begin testing patients for COVID-19

“Delays in access to testing have caused great public concern and greater mistrust in the eyes of the American people,” Crist wrote. “This is an opportunity to combat those issues, expanding availability of care for the people.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed Florida’s fourth case of coronavirus on Thursday.

Data shows the U.S. has about 215 cases among the more than 98,000 worldwide. So far, 3,383 people have died, including 12 in the U.S.

The CDC wrote Tuesday “the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low” for the general American public.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott issued a letter to Redfield and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf asking for information from federal agencies about security in place at Florida’s airports and seaports in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mark Bergin

Mark Bergin is a freelance journalist, who previously worked as an online writer for 10News WTSP in St. Petersburg. Bergin has covered the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium negotiations, the 2018 midterm elections, Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay’s transportation issues and city/county government. He also covers the NFL for the Bleav Podcast Network and for You can follow his work on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @mdbergin. Reach him by email at [email protected].


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