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Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis administration is set to unveil a new guidance on coronavirus testing that is based on risk factors, a strategy he believes is more likely to yield beneficial outcomes.
“The idea that if you have a lot of testing to stop the spread, that is not just happening,” DeSantis said in a Tuesday press conference along with Joseph Ladapo, the state’s surgeon general.
Ladapo added that “risk factors” are the “primary item that determine whether or not a test is actually likely to make a difference.”
“In fact, for people like young people who have no risk factor or people who are on their third test in a week … those situations not only don’t improve clinical outcomes, they actually sometimes worsen clinical outcomes,” Ladapo explained. “Unfortunately, the federal leadership made it such that those situations made the outcomes much worse. A great example of that is all the healthy kids that tested positive or had an exposure to someone with COVID-19 and ended up staying away from school for a week, 10 days or two weeks.”
Ladapo accused the Biden administration of attempting to create a “fantasy” that “you can somehow stop this pandemic by just doing more testing.”
“I’m waiting for more people to realize it’s completely failed,” Ladapo said. “There now have been published papers showing that all of those shutdowns and all of those quarantines hurt kids. And that is a darn shame. … That is unacceptable. And we’re stopping it here in Florida.”
The new guidance from Florida comes as Americans across the country have dealt with a shortage of coronavirus testing kicks amid a surge of cases of the omicron variant.
The Biden administration recently announced it has purchased 500 million kits that will be distributed to American households this month. But some, including physician Benjamin Mazer in a piece published in The Atlantic this week, have argued the shortage is driven by people testing themselves unnecessarily.
“Move over mimosas, because America has a fresh New Year’s tradition: struggling to get tested for COVID before returning to school or work,” Mazer wrote. “The system failed us: Inadequate public investment in the nation’s testing infrastructure has worsened the congestion. But we can help ease it too — and clear the way for those who have the greatest need for their results — by staying off the road whenever possible.”
The Biden White House, which has clashed with DeSantis over lockdowns, masking and remote learning for children multiple times over the past year, has taken issue with Florida’s retooling of testing procedures by doubling down on a previous call for DeSantis and other Republican governors to “get out of the way.”
“As the president has said before, if leaders are not going to help the American people in their fight against the virus, they should get out of the way,” a White House spokesperson told the Miami Herald. “Testing continues to be a key pillar in detecting the virus and stopping its spread; leaders should be uniting around it, not undermining it.”
In his Tuesday press conference, DeSantis also reiterated his call on the Biden administration to provide more monoclonal antibody treatments to the people of Florida.
“Prior to the federal government takeover of the monoclonal market, Florida successfully distributed approximately 30,000 doses per week when we managed our own supply,” DeSantis said Monday. “The state has more than $800 million available to quickly deploy monoclonal antibody treatments throughout the state, and the only thing holding us back is the insufficient supply of treatment from the federal government.”
“After failing to ‘shut down the virus,’ the Biden administration has come to the realization that there is not a federal solution to COVID-19, and releasing the federal stranglehold on these effective treatments is a good first step.”