During Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's recent press conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, The Floridian publisher, Javier Manjarres, asked the governor about the accusation made against him by Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried (D-FL), who accused him of letting COVID-19 test kits expire.
Manjarres asked, "Governor, about a week ago Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried put out an official statement accusing you of stockpiling COVID tests that were expiring soon. Is there any truth to that, can you speak to that?"
DeSantis deferred the question to the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie, who confirmed that there were some"800 thousand to 1 million test kits" that were sitting in a warehouse that expired.
"To piggyback on what the governor just described, as a downturn, we did not have the demand for testing. We had between 800 thousand and 1 million test kits, rapid test kits, in our warehouse that expired. We tried to give them out prior to that, but there was not a demand for it," said Guthrie.
Guthrie added that Florida has requested more tests from the federal government but is still waiting to hear back from HHS. Governor DeSantis then chimed.
"If they're [COVID tests] not authorized, and they're not accurate, then we don't want to send out inaccurate tests, but they already were extended in September, there wasn't a lot of demand for them, they've been sending them out as requested, there was no withholding anything, but the FDA is not gotten back to DEM about whether you can still send them," said Gov. DeSantis.
Gov. DeSantis concluded by advocating for at-home testing over state-supplied tests, saying, "Honestly, these at-home tests are going to be better, because it doesn't require anybody to proctor the test for you."
In response to The Floridian's request for comment, Commissioner Fried sent over this response, where she blames DeSantis for all of the COVID testing "long lines and lack of testing."
“I couldn’t be any more disappointed in the way Governor DeSantis threw another state employee under the bus to answer why DeSantis let the tests expire or why he tried to lie and cover it up. Floridians deserve the truth and they clearly aren’t getting it from the governor. He should apologize and admit he contributed to all the long lines and lack of testing in December.”
What DeSantis's full response: