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Florida seniors, students to get priority for free rapid COVID-19 testing

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds rapid test that are being distributed by the federal government.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds rapid test that are being distributed by the federal government. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – A day after President Donald Trump announced a plan to disperse 150 million rapid coronavirus tests, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that seniors and students in Florida will be priorities for testing.

During a press conference in Clearwater on Tuesday morning, DeSantis said the rapid tests will be distributed to all Florida nursing homes and long-term care facilities and the state will also receive an additional 6.4 million tests.

The tests, which do not require a lab, will be free and able to show a positive or negative test within about 15 minutes. DeSantis compared the tests to a pregnancy test and demonstrated how they work during the press conference on Tuesday.

About 420,000 tests are expected to arrive by Friday, said Jared Moskowitz, Director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. The state will then get 400,000 more tests each week moving forward, DeSantis said.

“This is an exciting day. I think this test is a game-changer,” Moskowitz said.

DeSantis said after addressing the vulnerable populations, schools will be a priority for receiving the tests.

“What this does is if you have that student who starts developing symptoms they can be obviously taken out, they can be given this test, and then we’ll know within 15 minutes whether it’s COVID or if it’s not COVID, then you should not by any means isolate any healthy students now,” DeSantis said.

Trump claimed Monday the tests, which are made by Abbott Laboratories, will “allow every state on a very regular basis test every teacher who needs it.”

“If each school district had a few thousand of these, you know, that’s probably going to be enough to be able to last them for a long time,” DeSantis said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.