DeSantis says a stockpile of up to 1 million COVID-19 tests expired in late December and announced plan to send 1 million COVID-19 tests to Florida seniors

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  • Gov. Ron DeSantis said that state officials discovered close to 1 million expired COVID-19 tests.

  • The disclosure came as he announced a plan to send 1 million at-home tests to Florida seniors.

  • DeSantis asked the Biden administration to extend the expiration date on the tests.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration said during a press conference on Thursday that between 800,000 and 1 million COVID-19 tests stockpiled by the state had expired in a warehouse, while it simultaneously announced a plan to send up to 1 million COVID-19 tests to seniors.

Kevin Guthrie, the director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, joined DeSantis at the press conference and disclosed the gaffe in response to questions from reporters.

"We had between 800,000 and a million test kits, Abbott rapid test kits, in our warehouse that did expire," Guthrie said. He added that the tests expired in the last week of December. He said there wasn't adequate demand to use them. DeSantis added that he was asking the Biden administration to extend the expiration dates on the batch of tests.

The purpose of the press conference, which Insider attended, was to announce plans to send 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other residences with high numbers of seniors in the state.

The stockpile of expired tests was first probed by Nikki Fried, the commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in hopes of defeating DeSantis.

On December 30, Fried said in a statement, "It's come to my attention that Governor DeSantis' Department of Health has a significant number of COVID-19 tests stockpiled that are set to expire imminently."

"There's no known public information about these tests or how soon they expire," Fried continued. "With omicron infections exploding throughout Florida, I beg of him to release these tests immediately to local counties and cities, and to stand up state-sponsored testing sites. To let these tests expire while Floridians anxiously wait for hours in testing lines is negligent at best, and heartless at worst."

DeSantis has stood in opposition to the Biden administration's COVID-19 response, rejecting vaccine requirements and issuing new statewide testing guidelines, which advise young, healthy, asymptomatic people with COVID-19 to skip testing.

Earlier this week, DeSantis also criticized the federal government's plan to set up additional federal testing sites and buy 500 million at-home testing kits, saying that only vulnerable communities should be prioritized for testing.

"The point of matter is not every single person needs to be going out always getting tested. You have healthy people. That's not a good strategy," DeSantis told Fox News on Thursday. "But what is a good strategy is to have these at-home tests available for our vulnerable population."

DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Kimberly Leonard contributed.

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