Ron DeSantis puts expired test ball in Joe Biden’s court, defends stockpile strategy
Ron DeSantis

DeSantis-2
'If we had done the opposite, we would have run out and then had to order as people had done it.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state has been asking since November for the federal government to extend the expiration date on a batch of up to 1 million rapid tests that expired last month.

Division of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Kevin Guthrie on Thursday confirmed between 800,000 and 1 million tests expired in late December while sitting unused in the state’s stockpile. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, one Democrat challenging DeSantis’ re-election bid this year, more than a week ago became the first to publicly warn that tests were expiring.

The Department of Health (DOH) manages the state’s COVID-19 supply stockpile and, with support from DEM, is the state agency in charge of the pandemic response. DOH officials have been asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to extend the expiration date on the tests since November.

“I don’t know when they’re going to provide any type of an answer, but I know people at the Department of Emergency Management have been asking about this since November and have still not been able to get a response,” DeSantis said.

That’s not new from the federal government, according to the Governor. On Thursday, he announced the state had acquired 1 million at-home rapid tests as part of its approach to prioritizing testing for high-risk populations. That happened in part, the Governor said, because President Joe Biden’s plan to provide rapid tests for free hasn’t come to fruition.

“With how the fed stuff works, it’s always a struggle with anything you’re doing,” DeSantis added. “They promised at-home tests last month, didn’t deliver. They have been taking away our early treatment … That’s just the reality that we’re dealing with here.”

The Abbott Laboratories rapid tests expired between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30 amid Florida’s sharp rise in COVID-19 infections. The omicron variant has caused cases to skyrocket across the country and in Florida, resulting in long lines at testing sites. Shelves of at-home rapid tests have also gone empty in stores.

Critics, including Fried, argue the state should have distributed the tests before they hit their expiration date. But the Governor defended the state’s approach to save a supply of tests from which pandemic response partners can draw down.

“The way they do this is they always want to have enough tests so that if people need them, they can send them down,” DeSantis said. “The result of that is we had a stockpile, but no one really wanted them for many, many months.”

“Having a stockpile was the right thing to do,” DeSantis added. “If we had done the opposite, we would have run out and then had to order as people had done it.”

On Thursday, Guthrie said the state attempted to distribute the tests prior to expiration, but there was no demand for them.

DOH officials said staff had continuously notified partners the tests were available. DOH’s partners include county emergency management agencies, county health departments, public safety agencies, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The latest wave, driven by the omicron variant, flared up in mid-December. But Florida’s previous wave, dominated by the delta variant, was dying down in the late summer months.

“They would have been used, I think, had we had omicron then,” DeSantis said. “But you also don’t want a situation where you’re wasting millions and millions of dollars.”

The first omicron case in the United States was reported on Dec. 1. Florida reported its first case on Dec. 7. COVID-19 cases were already tripling in Florida in the week leading up to the expiration.

After Thursday’s announcement, Fried held an “emergency” news conference in West Palm Beach in which she said Floridians need a better leader, bashing DeSantis for the expired tests.

“This Governor is not fit to serve,” Fried told reporters. “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.”

Following Fried’s characterization, DOH Communications Director Weesam Khoury issued a statement about the expired tests.

“To suggest that the Florida Department of Health waited around for these test kits to expire is simply false,” Khoury said.

Florida received the Abbott Laboratories rapid tests in 2020. In May, DOH requested and received a three-month extension ahead of the batch’s initial expiration dates in September.

Abbott Labs has also submitted a request for the federal government to again extend the expiration date.

For Wednesday, the latest day with available data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 67,369 new COVID-19 cases in Florida, with 4.5 million cases confirmed in the state throughout the pandemic. Florida also ranks sixth among states for new COVID-19 cases per capita, with 1,844.5 cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days. That’s a decline for Florida in the recent rankings.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


20 comments

  • Tom

    January 7, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Watched the Govs presser earlier!
    Outstanding. Has secured 15,000.00 additional Monoclonals. Outstanding.

    Also provided over $3 million to Lake Butler, infrastructure for wastewater and additional water pumps. Hardening the system from hurricane. DeSantis is a great Gov for environment. As a Repub he’s gets an A!

    America’s Governor making s difference every day! God Bless he, Casey and family! The best!

    • Work At Home

      January 7, 2022 at 5:03 pm

      Dollars earning easy job to work and earn online. start now making every day more than $500 simply working from home.lil i received $19517 previous month and i gave this job only 2 hrs a day online. so simple and it doesn’t required any kind of special skills. you can run facebook then you can do this job.

      go here for info…. www­.­NEWAPP1­.­com

    • Culo11

      January 10, 2022 at 6:13 pm

      Fantastic news! DeSantis is #Realtor..we bought 2 homes here in Florida and came for DeSantis’s sound reasoning and belief in our God given constitutional rights! ” On Thursday, Guthrie said the state attempted to distribute the tests prior to expiration, but there was no demand for them.

      DOH officials said staff had continuously notified partners the tests were available. DOH’s partners include county emergency management agencies, county health departments, public safety agencies, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

      The latest wave, driven by the omicron variant, flared up in mid-December. But Florida’s previous wave, dominated by the delta variant, was dying down in the late summer months.

      “They would have been used, I think, had we had omicron then,” DeSantis said. “But you also don’t want a situation where you’re wasting millions and millions of dollars.”

      • Tom

        January 10, 2022 at 10:40 pm

        Yes culo11, America’s Gov is great for people, business, housing, industry and the economy. Florida, DeSantis #1. DeSantis for people.

  • Kathy

    January 7, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    So, how did “America’s Governor” allow a million tests to expire? As usual, trying to blame someone else. The distribution of the new test to the elderly is going to be a Charlie Foxtrot.

    • Tom

      January 7, 2022 at 3:48 pm

      Ignorance is bliss!
      Kathy, you know not what you speak.
      Ask Biden to extend the dates, they have asked. Biden’s sleeping. Harris is giggling. Mayor Peter in hiding.

      Unfortunately, Sept. Oct & Nov into Dec demand subsided. Ask Joe to extend the test date.

      No worries, whiz kid action Gov has 1 million mailed out now, just recv’d over 15,000 Regeneron monoclonals.

      DeSantis, America’s Gov the best!
      Wins bigly Nov 22. Tallahassee to WH after.

      • John Poirier

        January 7, 2022 at 5:55 pm

        Regeneron monoclonals are ineffective against the Omicron variant, so that’s no win for Desantis. Even while DeSantis underreports the number of COVID infections and hospitalizations, the number of Omicron hospitalizations have increased by 354% over the past two weeks! DeSantis is a master of excuses and deflections, Florida residents are finally taking note of that, and his ratings are steadily decreasing.

  • Tom

    January 7, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    John, Not at all.
    Media will put out a sabotage poll.
    Masters they are.

    When you and Biden offer something, compared to Trumps initiatives let us know.
    They’ve delayed no new monos, no new vaccines. Just a waste of year! You know all though. Biden ordered tests, after delaying October.

    Biden and media created the falsest of narratives to get him elected. We are paying for it, he’s abysmal. His numbers are awful. Won’t recover. Enjoy! We suffer. He’s at a F grade, cross the board.

    The political re alignment will be severe for Dems. Like FDR to Herbert Hoover, as I’ve read. Extrapolate the numbers across country on VA and NJ. ( lol look that word up.)

    DeSantis is the best. Wins big!

  • tom palmer

    January 7, 2022 at 7:56 pm

    I think I’ll contact Publix and see if they’ll extend the sell-by date for the stuff that’s bubbling out of the jar I bought a few years ago and never used. I’ll ask the governor for help if they refuse.
    .

  • Beth

    January 8, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    First he denies it. Then he cries “but nobody wanted them”. Now he blames Biden. DeSantis is an ignorant corrupt greedy individual with the mentality of a toddler. Letting those tests expire was a criminal act. He should be arrested.

  • Tom’s Mom

    January 8, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    Tom, my son, I know that you have extensive brain damage from drinking the milk past it’s expiration date, but I thought it would be ok. But I still love my little imbecile, good night Tom and please try not to wet you bed again.

    • Tom

      January 9, 2022 at 10:26 am

      Just continue to make me the legend I am. You are an idiot but typical Alex, peter h, other Manchurians.

      Your inability to deal with substance speaks for itself. Your fake moniker demonstrates your juvenile state of mind.

      • Tom's Mom

        January 10, 2022 at 8:58 am

        Tom, my bed wetting son, I am very concerned about your mental health. Saying that you are a legend is sadly delusional. Again it demonstrates that you are an imbecile and clueless— I think I may still love you my Tiny Tom the Troll!

        • Tom

          January 10, 2022 at 6:18 pm

          Typical mental scumcrat.
          Just making me the legend on FP.
          I have the following you moronic Manchurians hope for. Just a scum bag as you can’t defend your incompetent Potus and his giggles v p
          Literally a F in every category of concern. The only bed wetting is the animal you sleep with and sext with! LMAO.

  • Michelle Pastor

    January 10, 2022 at 11:50 am

    I love Governor Ron DeSantis.

    Mosquito lady Nikki Fried obviously has Soros’ machinery behind her. It’s mind blowing how well political campaigns coordinate so well with the media.

    • Tom

      January 10, 2022 at 7:02 pm

      That’s cause they are one and the same.
      The media tells the Dems what to say and think. Total Manchurians.

  • Concern Citizen

    January 11, 2022 at 8:42 am

    62,688 Floridians have lost their lives to Covid. How many of these deaths could have been prevented if DeSantis had better policies toward the prevention of Covid?
    He will blame people such as President Biden and Dr. Fauci for not doing enough but he will NOT support their attempts to prevent the spread of Covid. If anything, he is creating barriers with lies and misinformation that run contrary to their attempts to stop Covid.
    The cry of “Give Me Liberty (freedom) Or Give Me Death” has taken on a new meaning in Florida

    • Tom

      January 11, 2022 at 7:20 pm

      Fauci has over 800,000 perished.
      Biden has over 400,000,
      More perished compared to Trump.
      How do you liberal Manchurians like that. Hypocrites

  • Paul D Walker

    January 13, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    Ignorant people….all of you. You have the IQ of a monkey.

Comments are closed.


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