For the first time since Dec. 17, Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke on the state’s response to the omicron surge in Florida.
The governor addressed the issue during a news conference in Broward County Monday. The event comes days after the Florida Department of Health reported nearly 300,000 new cases that occurred between Dec. 24-30, an average of 42,636 new infections per day.
The surge in cases is being fueled by the omicron variant of COVID-19, which is more contagious than the previously dominant delta strain.
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DeSantis announced Monday he is re-opening state-run sites for monoclonal antibody treatments.
However, the governor did not address calls for the state to re-open state-run testing sites, as lines for testing at Barnett Park in Orange County reached 7-hour wait times Monday.
“There is not a shortage of COVID-19 testing supply, there is a shortage of leadership on this issue,” said Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, (D) Orlando. “There is a legitimate demand for COVID testing out there but unfortunately we aren’t able to meet the demand and one of those reasons is because the State of Florida is AWOL in providing capacity and assistance for COVID-19 testing.”
The governor admitted there is increased demand adding he’s waiting on the millions of at-home tests promised by President Joe Biden and the federal government.
“There is obviously a crunch on the availability of tests,” DeSantis said. “We were promised a lot of home tests. The federal government is in control of that, I don’t know when that is coming.”
However, DeSantis said the state is working with the Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo on releasing new state guidance when it comes to testing, claiming other states and the federal government is creating hysteria.
“He’s going to work on some guidance to say let’s test for a reason,” DeSantis said.
“We need to unwind the testing and living one’s life around testing,” Ladapo said. “My goal is to put out testing that doesn’t restrict access to testing, but reduce the use of low-value testing and prioritizes high-value testing. High-value testing is likely to change the outcome.”
News 6 emailed the Governor’s office for more information on the new testing guidance expected to come down from the state and asked if the state plans on re-opening state-run testing sites to help with the demand, with no immediate response Monday afternoon.
As for testing guidance from the CDC, the agency recommends you get tested if you are showing symptoms, have been exposed or need it for screenings prior to work and travel. According to Dr. Fauci over the weekend, the administration is also looking at recommending testing for anyone coming out of isolation as well.