Florida issues new COVID testing guidance. Here’s what you need to know

State continues to see high testing demand as cases surge

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health issued new COVID-19 testing guidelines Thursday in an effort to alleviate sites seeing high demand as the omicron variant continues to fuel new cases.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that the state was working with Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo on the new guidance.

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“We need to unwind the testing and living one’s life around testing,” Ladapo said during Monday’s news conference. “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.”

The updated guidance breaks down recommendations for symptomatic people with risk factors, symptomatic people with no risk factors and people with no symptoms who may have been exposed in an effort to lessen the demand statewide.

“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.”

The state’s new guidance advises people who have COVID-19 symptoms and have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should get tested and seek “early monoclonal antibody or antiviral drug treatment and seek other medical treatment as necessary.”

People with symptoms and who are not at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider getting tested for COVID-19 and seek treatment only as necessary.

State health officials said testing for anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 but have no symptoms is “unlikely to have any clinical benefits.”

We saw long lines again for COVID-19 testing at Barnett Park in Orlando Thursday. Some people said they waited as long as four hours.

“I think it is very important for everyone to have a place where they can come and get tested,” said Airashon Mills.

Mills said she’s an advocate for testing for anyone -- all to make sure everyone is safe.

“If you can’t get tested then you wouldn’t know, and you can keep away from other people,” said Mills.

As for testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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. Anthony Fauci, the administration is also looking at recommending testing for anyone coming out of isolation as well.

To read the updated guidance, click here.

About the Authors:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.