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Florida opening COVID-19 testing to people in close contact with those infected

Gov. Ron DeSantis emphasizes importance of rapid, antibody testing

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday the state will soon allow COVID-19 testing for anyone who has had prolonged interaction with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

“Starting this Monday at Jacksonville, the Orange County Convention Center and in Dade, anybody who has coronavirus symptoms, regardless of age, can get tested,” DeSantis said. “Anyone who has made contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus can get tested.”

It was not immediately clear if officials at testing sites would try to confirm whether an individual had contact with a COVID-19 patient, or if testing would be on a “good faith" system as has been policy at the Orange County Convention Center when dealing with patents claiming underlying illness.

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In addition to broadening testing guidelines, the governor also said he is pushing for rapid tests to be more widely available. Rapid tests provide positive results within five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes of processing the sample.

The test, created by Abott Labs, is not as widely available as many health officials would like, leaving testing centers to rely on collecting samples and having to send them off to a lab for analysis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the antibody testing is particularly important because COVID-19 can be present in a person who shows the common symptoms of the disease or doesn’t display any at all.

“We are doing our best to expand access to rapid tests,” DeSantis said. “This will be a game-changer. Abott Labs’ five-minute tests have just come on the market. We are looking to make that available to all hospitals in Florida.”

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The governor also spoke about wanting to expand antibody testing in Florida.

Many health experts maintain antibody testing is critical to COVID-19 patient recovery, as it is believed that if someone has the antibodies produced in response to the body’s detection of coronavirus, that means they’ve contracted the highly contagious respiratory illness at some point and now could potentially have some immunity.

Antibody testing could potentially identify those who had mild symptoms or no symptoms, even though they contracted COVID-19, according to the governor.

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