Nikki Fried to Floridians after COVID-19 tests expire: ‘You need a better leader’
Nikki Fried. Image via Colin Hackley.

News of the expiring tests came to light in late December after Fried published a warning on social media.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried apologized to Floridians Thursday after the leader of Florida’s pandemic response confirmed up to 1 million unused COVID-19 tests expired in state custody.

Fried’s apology came hours after Division of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Kevin Guthrie confirmed the expiration.

A longtime critic of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Fried accused the Republican Governor of reckless leadership amid the pandemic. She also characterized the incident as the latest example in a long line of leadership failures. DeSantis, she argued, has proven himself “ill-prepared” to manage the state.

“This Governor is not fit to serve,” Fried told reporters in West Palm Beach. “He should have known that this stockpile of tests could have been distributed all throughout the state. This is not only a (dereliction) of responsibility. But this is a complete failure of this Governor.”

News of the expiring tests came to light in late December after Fried published a warning on social media. In a statement, she “begged” DeSantis to release the tests, noting that Floridians are facing long wait times at testing sites amid a spike of positive cases.

The Florida Department of Health, however, quickly dismissed the report at the time.

“It’s come to my attention that Nikki Fried needs to turn on that blinker and get back her in lane,” responded DOH Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern on social media.

How exactly Fried learned of the expiring tests remains unknown. When asked by reporters, though, she described the source as someone “high up” serving at an executive agency.

DEM, which operates under the Governor’s Office, manages the state’s testing stockpile. The stockpile is available to hospitals, nursing homes and state-supported response hubs.

Before the tests expired, DEM requested an extension to those expiration dates from Abbott Laboratories and the federal government. That request, however, has gone unanswered, Guthrie said. The batch of rapid tests expired between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30.

Fried is one of three major Democratic candidates vying to lead the party atop the 2022 ticket. She has bolstered her profile during the pandemic as a frequent critic of DeSantis, appearing often before national audiences on outlets such as CNN and MSNBC.

During Florida’s summer delta wave, she routinely hosted COVID-19 press conferences, sometimes arguing she was filling a leadership void left by DeSantis.

She echoed that sentiment Thursday.

“I want to apologize to the people of our state,” Fried said. “You need a better leader, you need somebody who’s going to stand up, and stand up for you, and show up.”

Guthrie’s confirmation came during DeSantis’ news conference in West Palm Beach, in which the Governor highlighted the state’s acquisition of 1 million at-home rapid tests.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • Don’t Look Up

    January 6, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    Any leadership other than DeSantis!

    • Impeach Biden

      January 6, 2022 at 4:11 pm

      Really? You would vote for that lunatic? Thank God her tour as Ag Commissioner is about to expire. She has attempted, I’ll say again attempted to springboard her political career by using her position to do nothing but criticize probably the finest Governor in the United States. Walk through any Florida airport. Look at home values. Florida is the place to be due to the leadership of DeSantis. Fried stands no chance at all to defeat DeSantis. She probably won’t even be the Democratic nominee. Let me guess, you would vote for Gillum again if given the chance.

      • Work At Home

        January 7, 2022 at 5:34 pm

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      • FatBloatedFlorida

        January 10, 2022 at 7:09 am

        Wow. Watch Fox news much? Look at how many deaths he has on his hands for his ‘Florida Open’ mantra. When you block the covid stats and essentially publish whatever you want things can appear to be awesome. This state is full of sick people coming down to Florida since they can’t get refunds on last years trip.

        Ronny meanwhile stockpiles treatments and tests to make sure his donors are taken care of.

        If you are fine with a dictator then by all means vote again for Ronny.

        If you are alive.

    • Antonio

      January 7, 2022 at 9:30 am

      We have gained over 220,000 new Floridians because of his policies. That’s usually a pretty good hallmark of leadership for running a state successfully.

      • Critical Bullshit Theory (CBT)

        January 10, 2022 at 5:57 pm

        Well, not quite 220K if you factor in all the Floridians that died of Covid on DeSantis’ watch.

        – 62,628 Covid-19 deaths
        =157,372 net gain

        • Antonio

          January 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

          That is ridiculous. By your logic, Democrat Gavin Newsome is responsible for the 76,276 COVID deaths in California that happened on his watch. Is that what you think?

  • Don’t Look Up

    January 6, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    I hope that Liz Cheney runs for president in 2024! It will split the Republican ticket!

    Republicans need a ‘time out’ from leadership responsibilities. Today’s Republicans need a lesson in patriotism and Democracy.

    • Antonio

      January 7, 2022 at 10:21 am

      Liz Cheney wouldn’t get past single digit levels in the primaries, she will not be spitting any ticket up.

      Regarding Republicans needing time out from leadership, a whole lot of people seem to disagree with you considering the places they are moving out of in droves (NY, CA, IL), and the places they are flocking to (FL, TX). Obviously, those Red states are doing something right in relation to the Blue states these people are coming from.

      As far as patriotism, I am still seeing Republicans doing the Pledge of Allegiance, protecting the Constitution, and flying the flag. I do not generalize whole swaths of people, so will not say that all Democrats do the opposite. However, many Democrats denounce the pledge, are pushing to change the constitution, and think flying the flag is sort of fascistic act. And those Democrats are very, very loud.

      Finally, Republicans have no problem with democracy. Wanting US elections to be secure so that only rightful US citizens vote on them is not blocking democracy.

      • Guessed

        January 7, 2022 at 5:20 pm

        Well recited.
        Gosh, I sure hope tough-guy Ron lowers Florida flags to half staff for Rush Limbaugh again. Gee, maybe permanently!

      • Tjb

        January 12, 2022 at 6:20 pm

        Was it the Democratic’s who attacked the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021 to overthrow the election, the key element of democracy? Asking for a friend.

  • Jerry

    January 6, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    Nikki Fraud won’t even win the Dem primary.

    The Democrats idea of a “better leader” is one who will mandate masks on your kids, force needles in your arm, lockdown your business, censor your speech, and demand blind allegiance to the state. No thank you! I will never vote for a Democrat for as long as I live!

    • Alex

      January 6, 2022 at 5:45 pm

      Yes, I want a leader who puts people’s lives and health before their presidential aspirations, and actually encourages folks to take the best possible science based precautions.

      No one is taking any rights away from you liar, and if you think they are, why haven’t you filed a civil rights lawsuit?

      Speech? Blind allegiance? Bwaahahahahahahaha!!

      You’re just an anti-vax fringe kook with an internet connection and an empty head.

      • Don’t Look Up

        January 6, 2022 at 5:50 pm


  • Tom

    January 6, 2022 at 7:03 pm

    Ok, clearly a set up.
    Obviously, DC tipping N Fraud off.
    Sandbag from Fraud.

    Memo: The whole country is losing access.
    Blue states, Red states, in between states.
    People are waiting for 5 plus hours across country. Does not matter where.

    Incompetent Biden, apparently refused to order new tests twice. why you ask ? So as to require demand, vaccine. No Monoclonals, no new therapeutics. Be clear, this administration is clearly a failure. On every topic or issue they are a F, maybe a D at best. You Manchurians all are a joke! Liars, just pathetic.

    Fraud is a band of one. She has no following. Fraud is a gift to the GOP, electoral nightmare for Dums. Enjoy!

    The BS from Fraud and media is overwhelming. The crap is up to the ears. Enjoy the blowout!

    • Concern Citizen

      January 12, 2022 at 4:28 pm

      Trump wants to know if DeSantis will let Floridian know if he has received his Covid vaccinations. Will DeSantis tell us? If he wants to, he can. HIPAA compliance does not applied if DeSantis has the courage to let us know.

  • Tom

    January 6, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    You ignorant moron Manchurians voted for Gillium. Yes, that’s wise decision making for leadership. America’s Governor on his most challenging day, is better than Gillium, Crist, Nikki Fraud, and Taddero combined.

  • tom palmer

    January 7, 2022 at 9:15 am

    DeSantis’ incompetence is no longer a surprise. Sure, Freid has her issues and I don’t see her winning the nomination, but it’s great that she’s exposing the emperor’s nakedness.

  • Brian Waters

    January 7, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    If you can’t test for Covid you get to say that there is no spike in Covid? It’s all about controlling the Covid-19 narrative.

    • Brian Waters

      January 7, 2022 at 6:16 pm

      And if you can’t test for Covid-19 to see if you have that virus , then Governor DeSantis doesn’t need to ask the federal government for monoclonal antibody treatments.

  • Colt Seavers

    January 10, 2022 at 8:38 am

    Of course Nikki cant win everyone knows that. But we do so enjoy Nikki’s childish jabs at the all time greatest Governor Florida has ever had!!!
    Keep ’em comming tricky Nikki you are more laughs than SNL!!!!!!

  • Arch Stanton

    January 10, 2022 at 10:10 am


Comments are closed.


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