New life for Florida’s expired COVID tests: FDA extends expiration date by 3 months

Frank Gluck
Fort Myers News-Press

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Federal regulators have approved a three-month extension on COVID-19 testing kits that technically expired months ago. 

This means nearly 1 million COVID-19 tests that the federal government considered expired will now be made available to Floridians who have been struggling to find tests.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried alleged in late December that Gov. Ron DeSantis stockpiled COVID-19 tests that were “set to expire imminently,” despite the high demand for such tests as omicron surged.

During a news conference with DeSantis Thursday in West Palm Beach, Kevin Guthrie, the director of the state Division of Emergency Management, confirmed that Florida had between 800,000 and 1 million COVID-19 tests that expired between Dec. 26-30.

According to Guthrie, they had originally expired in September, but the state received a three-month extension on those test kits from the manufacturer and federal regulators.

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“Last week, I spoke directly with officials with the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team on the hopes that if quality assurances were met, these kits could be used to help address testing shortages as Floridians are facing long lines and record daily cases as omicron surges," Fried said Tuesday in a news release. "I am glad that we were able to bring the truth to light and help facilitate the extension that’s been granted so these tests won’t go to waste to the detriment of the people of Florida."

At last week's news conference, Guthrie said they “tried to give them out” before they initially expired in the fall, “but there was not a demand for them.”

DeSantis echoed the lack of demand, saying, “Right before the last few weeks, there were plenty of tests out there.” 

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But following the holidays, cities from Sarasota to Deltona saw long lines at COVID testing sites and few at-home kits available for purchase. DeSantis last week urged asymptomatic people to not get tested.

“If you’re young and healthy, you don’t need to be running out and getting tested every day,” DeSantis said.