The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) updated its COVID testing guidelines prioritizing certain demographics for testing. FDOH made the announcement with a news release.
In the announcement, the FDOH prioritized testing for older Floridians as well as those in younger age brackets with immunocompromised circumstances.
“There are certain groups who are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness means that an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 may need hospitalization, intensive care, or that they may even die. Groups at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:
- Older adults, especially those age 65 and older.
- Individuals with certain medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, heart conditions, and a weakened immune system (immunocompromised).
- Pregnant or recently pregnant.”
The new guidelines also include a provision that says individuals who are exposed to COVID and remain asymptomatic do not have to get tested. This provision runs in direct contrast to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that says individuals, with or without symptoms, who come into contact with COVID should get tested.
The updated guidelines come as Florida has been experiencing a COVID test crunch and long lines at testing sites around the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who hinted at the prospect of new guidelines earlier this week, said people are getting tested when they do not need to get tested.
“What you are seeing is there are people going to the drug stores, buying all these tests,” DeSantis said. “They’ll go multiple times per week to the sites and test, without symptoms. That is just going to contribute to some of the crunch that you are seeing.”
Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo also said it is not “sensible” for some people to get tested when the omicron variant is scientifically the least severe iteration of COVID.
“We’re not telling people you can’t get tested,” Ladapo said. “We’re not restricting access. What we are saying is we don’t think it’s sensible that people who are unlikely to benefit, unlikely to have any change in their clinical outcome to sort of be in line waiting to get tested.”
In a press conference before the new guidelines were released, Ladapo said Florida is working to unwind the “testing psychology” that the federal government has perpetuated for nearly two years.
“We’re 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 year,” Ladapo said. “We need to unwind this testing, sort of, planning and living one’s life around testing. Without it we’re going to be stuck in the same cycle.”
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