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DeSantis Talks Testing, Says Supply Delays Impacted State Response To Coronavirus Pandemic

Health Care worker's hands holding COVID-19 testing kit.
Manatee County Government
A new regional testing site is located at the Mall at the University Town Center near the Sarasota-Manatee County line.

Governor Ron DeSantis was in Sarasota Tuesday to discuss the state’s latest response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a new COVID-19 testing site at the University Town Center Mall, the governor said Florida is ramping up testing and loosening restrictions on who can get screened for the virus.

"Obviously if you have coronavirus symptoms, come, it doesn't matter how old," he said. "Two, if you're a health care worker, first responder -- regardless of symptoms, come get tested, and then even if you're somebody that's totally asymptomatic, but believe that you may have been exposed to coronavirus in one way or another, come."

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF Public Media and Health News Florida 

The state's 12th regional testing site is near the Manatee-Sarasota County line. It comes after local leaders lobbied for help. Manatee County in particular has had a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths when compared to the rest of the state.

DeSantis also said antibody testing is coming to drive-thru facilities and that CVS, Walgreens and Walmart stores will also soon begin testing for the virus.

Additionally, the governor said the state has been running walk-up testing sites for approximately three weeks and have conducted over 10,000 tests.

“This takes testing locations particularly into underserved communities and gives folks the opportunity to come get tested," he said. "Not everyone has a car. Not everyone has the ability to get to some of these other test sites.”

At the Tuesday press conference, DeSantis also said Florida's ability to secure PPE and testing kits was disrupted by global pressures on the supply chain.

He specifically directed his criticism at China.

"All this stuff should be made in the United States not made in China," he said. "We don't want our health destiny to be resting in the hands of a communist dictatorship. Certainly in Florida, we would welcome any of the manufacturing. Come to Florida, we got a good business environment we would love to have you here."

DeSantis also said the state on Wednesday will unveil its new mobile testing unit. It's an RV equipped with a lab that will conduct rapid testing of COVID-19. The plan is to first deploy the unit to the state's nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

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