1M expired COVID tests to be used in Florida after FDA grants new extension, DeSantis says

File photo. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said 1 million Abbott COVID-19 rapid tests that expired in a warehouse in December are now “going out” to testing sites after their usage date was extended to March 2022 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, News4JAX sister station WKMG reported.

At a news conference Wednesday in Bonita Springs, DeSantis said the tests are now available and will be sourced “just like they would have been” if they were authorized earlier.

“Different testing centers, different county health (departments), people that want them, (they’re) gonna’ go, but those are not at-home tests, those are older Abbott tests,” DeSantis said. “You can’t just send (them) into people’s homes, it’s literally a box with like 40 tests in it and just one little tube of the solution that you have to put in there, and so they really need to be done by, you know, in a test center, or they need to be done at a county health department or something like that, so those are all going out.”

According to a statement from Florida Department of Health Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern, these test kits will join the others currently being sent to county emergency management offices and health departments, public safety agencies, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

“On January 10, 2022, with support from the state of Florida, the manufacturer received a three-month extension on the shelf-life expiration date for the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card,” Redfern said. “I also want to be clear these tests are NOT at-home tests. They could not have been sent out to Floridians directly — these tests were produced for testing sites and require trained professionals to administer them.”

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card is advertised on Abbott’s website as “a simple nasal swab in the comfort and convenience of your home.” WKMG reached out to the governor’s office for comment as to whether the COVID-19 tests in the warehouse were the exact same product.

“The governor’s statement this morning was accurate: The test kits that had expired but were extended, are not at-home tests. They came in packs of 40 for use at authorized testing sites,” the governor’s spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said.

WKMG asked FDOH what makes the stockpiled tests unfit for use in a home setting.

“They have one bottle of reagent to a bulk amount of tests,” FDOH Director of Communications Weesam Khoury said.

When asked if all of the tests will be used before their new expiration date, DeSantis said that it would be contingent on demand.

“There wasn’t a lot of them being gotten out because people weren’t asking for them before, so I can’t say that there’s a guarantee but I think that you have a lot higher demand for testing right now,” DeSantis said. “My sense is that there’s going to be enough requests to at least get a lot of those out the door very very quickly, but I- look, at the end of the day, you know, they bought too many, they did have a surplus for a while, and I think that’s probably better than not.”

You can find a list of local testing sites here.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.