60,000 testing kits that can diagnose COVID-19 within 15 minutes or less are being sent to school districts throughout the state of Florida this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday.
Speaking at a medical facility in The Villages, the governor said Florida is currently receiving its initial shipment of rapid COVID-19 antigen testing kits from the federal government, and is in the process of distributing them across the state.
The BiNax NOW test from Abbott Laboratories uses a nasal swab to determine within 15 minutes if someone is infected with COVID-19.
The governor said 60,000 testing kits will be sent to school districts throughout Florida immediately.
“This will be for any student or teacher that develops symptoms and needs to be tested,” DeSantis said. “If a student is either sent to school that’s sick or becomes sick in school, you take the student out, isolate them. But then if you can get a 15-minute test and you get the negative, then you don’t have to worry about isolating some of these other students.”
The governor said the goal is to avoid “healthy quarantining,” in which students are forced to quarantine even if it’s undetermined if someone in their class has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“These tests really give you the ability to take that off the table if you have somebody that’s symptomatic, but is negative,” DeSantis said. “We want to keep as many students in the classroom as we can.”
Earlier on Monday, the director of Palm Beach County’s Department of Emergency Management said the county has already received its initial allotment of rapid COVID-19 tests from the state, which will be given to nursing homes and schools first.
“We are working with [the state] to try to adjust that [allotment] to ensure that we get as many as we possibly can,” Bill Johnson told county commissioners.
In addition to schools, DeSantis said 180,000 BiNax NOW testing kits will be sent to senior communities throughout Florida, 100,000 will go to long-term care facilities, and 60,000 will go to various testing sites.
The governor said Florida will receive around 400,000 testing kits per week for a total of 6.4 million testing kits.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 720,125 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14,767 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.