Well-Being Prevention & Cures

DeSantis administration says it let a million COVID-19 tests expire in Florida warehouse

Story at a glance

  • During a press conference, the Florida Department of Emergency Management confirmed that up to 1 million COVID-19 rapid tests had expired while sitting in a warehouse.
  • State officials said the tests expired because there wasn’t enough demand for them.
  • However, a letter sent from the Miami-Dade County mayor in December had asked Florida’s surgeon general for more COVID-19 tests to meet growing demand.

As many Americans struggle to get a hold of a COVID-19 rapid test or secure a testing appointment, the Florida Department of Emergency Management announced that as many as 1 million rapid tests expired while sitting in a warehouse. 

During a press conference this week, Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida Department of Emergency Management, confirmed that between 800,000 to 1 million Abbott rapid COVID-19 tests had expired.  

“We received a three-month extension on those test kits, which ended up expiring between Dec. 26 to Dec. 30. We tried to give them out beforehand but there was no demand for it,” said Guthrie. 

Guthrie said that after the test kits were extended once, an additional extension was requested, but the state had not yet heard back from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


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As Guthrie, alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis, argued there wasn’t sufficient demand for COVID-19 tests in Florida, a letter written to the state’s surgeon general suggested the opposite. 

On Dec. 21, Miami-Dade County’s mayor Daniella Levine Cava wrote a letter to Florida’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that asked for, “all possible tests be directed to Miami-Dade County to meet the growing demand for testing in our community.” 

A video posted by Daniel Uhlfelder, a lawyer based in Florida, on Dec. 17 also showed a massive line up of cars of people waiting to get tested at a Miami COVID-19 testing center.  

Earlier last week, Nikki Fried, Florida agriculture commissioner, accused DeSantis of stockpiling urgently needed COVID-19 tests and put out a statement asking to quickly release the tests.  

“Given the governor’s lack of transparency throughout this pandemic, there’s no known public information about these tests or how soon they expire. With omicron infections exploding throughout Florida, I beg of him to release these tests immediately,” said Fried.  

Florida is also facing heat for a separate action, after the state’s Department of Health released updated testing guidelines this week, which recommended that people with COVID-19 who don’t display any symptoms do not need to get tested. The guidance says that “COVID-19 testing is unlikely to have any clinical benefits.” 

That decision has alarmed some public health experts in Florida, like Aileen Marty, professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University. She told the Orlando Sentinel that testing offers more accurate COVID-19 case counts, which are necessary to estimate how many resources a community needs to get ahead of future surges before they begin.  

“Encouraging individuals NOT to test is the perfect way to mask the truth, hide the risk to the population, underestimate the resource needs, and prolong the problem,” said Marty. 

The state of COVID-19 is especially dire in Florida, with the state experiencing a 849 percent increase in COVID-19 cases earlier this week.  


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