Sen. Scott seeks information on rapid tests

(News Service of Florida)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent a letter Thursday to federal Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and governors throughout the country asking for detailed information about the distribution of rapid “antigen” tests for COVID-19.

The request included information about how many tests have been distributed to each state and how the states subsequently are parceling out the tests.

“We must do everything possible to fully reopen our nation’s economy and get Americans back to work and school. Our nation’s testing capacity has greatly increased and the Trump Administration is making great progress with therapeutics and vaccine development,” Scott wrote in the letter. “However, it is clear we have not beaten this, and there is more we must do at all levels of government, especially when it comes to testing capacity.”

Scott said Congress has not received information from states on the distribution of the antigen tests.

In his letter, Scott asked Azar whether the Department of Health and Human Services has distribution information from the states.

“Do the states report this data? Is there a penalty for not reporting?” the letter asked.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in September that Florida would receive 6.4 million rapid test kits under the federal government’s plan to provide more than 150 million kits across the nation.

The rapid test is one of two diagnostic tests for COVID-19 that indicate whether a person has an active coronavirus infection. Molecular tests, such as RT-PCR tests, detect the virus' genetic material, but can take from a day to a week to get the results. Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus and come back within 15 minutes. However, antigen tests can have false negatives, and results may need to be confirmed with molecular tests. 

DeSantis said the state would distribute the tests to schools, long-term care centers and senior communities such as The Villages.