Healthcare

Florida surgeon general blasts ‘testing psychology’ around COVID-19

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said on Monday it was time to “unwind” the “testing psychology” many Americans have developed throughout the pandemic, as COVID-19 cases surge in his state. 

“We are going to be working to unwind the sort of testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to, unfortunately, get most of the country in over the last two years,” Ladapo said at a news conference Monday. 

He added that people were planning and living their lives around testing but said it was “really time for people to be living, to make the decisions they want regarding vaccination, to enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity.”

Lapado’s comments come as COVID-19 cases are surging in Florida and around the country. 

The Florida Department of Health reported 298,455 new cases with a positivity rate of 26.5 percent for the week of Dec. 24 through Dec. 30, compared to 128,186 cases the week of Dec. 17 and 29,514 cases the week of Dec. 10.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) acknowledged at Monday’s press conference that Florida was struggling with testing shortages as people flood the state’s testing sites but said the federal government has “total control” over testing supplies, according to WFLA.

DeSantis added that Ladapo would be releasing new testing guidance focused on testing “if you have a reason,” per WFLA. 

Lapado cited an example of prioritizing an elderly grandmother over a third grader and said the focus would be on testing that could “likely change outcomes,” according to WTSP.  

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said in a tweet that the surgeon general’s comments were “completely backwards.”

“Florida Surgeon General says we need to stop testing and get back to our lives,” Jha said. “In fact, with ubiquitous testing, we can keep infections low and safely get back to our lives.”

In 2020, then-President Trump also suggested that less testing would be beneficial for the pandemic. 

“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” Trump said during a White House event about the administration’s actions to help senior citizens.

Republicans have recently upped the pressure on President Biden over testing shortages, with people struggling to buy at-home tests or schedule appointments for tests amid the omicron surge. 

Two top Republican senators on Monday called on the Biden administration to provide answers about how it has spent billions of dollars in testing funds for COVID-19 amid shortages in such tests across the country.

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