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Crist overstated the number of expired tests, it was up to 1 million, not “millions.”
Crist’s statement leaves the impression that the tests were no longer usable. However, because the tests were stored safely, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed the tests to be used by March 2022.
DeSantis attributed their expiration to lack of demand and to pending approvals from the federal government. Before Florida could distribute the tests, the FDA had to sign off on their safety.
As COVID-19 deaths in Florida trended upward in late-January, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist attacked Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over diagnostic tests that expired while stored in a state warehouse.
In a video ad placed on Facebook and Instagram, Crist said DeSantis "keeps pulling right-wing partisan political stunts in Florida, like letting millions of COVID-19 tests expire."
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said on Dec. 30 that Florida had "a significant number of COVID-19 tests stockpiled that are set to expire imminently." Fried, another Democratic candidate for governor, called on DeSantis to release the tests immediately to cities and counties.
We didn’t find any evidence that the expired tests numbered in the millions. When we asked Crist’s campaign about the ad, which began running Jan. 28, a spokesperson said Feb. 3 that "millions" was "a typo" and that the ad would be corrected. A new version of the ad, posted Feb. 3, says "up to a million" in the text, but the same video is used, in which Crist says "millions."
Florida emergency management director Kevin Guthrie on Jan. 6 said the state had between 800,000 and 1 million rapid-test kits manufactured by Abbott in a warehouse "that did expire" earlier in 2021.
DeSantis said the same day the tests were not distributed earlier in 2021 because of a lack of demand from testing sites. He also said they couldn’t be distributed in December — when Floridians were waiting in long lines at community testing sites — because state officials were waiting for federal approval for the tests to be used after their listed expiration.
Florida began distributing the tests after a Jan. 7 approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Abbott and the federal government, in effect, gave Florida a three-month extension in September 2021 so that the tests would not be considered expired until late-December 2021, Guthrie said. Abbott made the extension request, as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA regularly grants requests to extend the shelf life of medical products if the products have been properly stored.
But the tests remained in the warehouse after that initial extension. Guthrie said that before the tests expired in late-December, the state asked Abbott to request a second extension. The tests’ December expiration date passed before the FDA granted that additional extension on Jan. 7.
On Jan. 12, DeSantis said at a news conference that the FDA’s second three-month extension meant the tests could be used by March 2022.
Florida Health Department spokesperson Jeremey Redfern told PolitiFact on Feb. 2 that 99% of the tests have been distributed to testing sites.
Crist said DeSantis let "millions of COVID-19 tests expire."
Crist overstated the number of tests that expired, it was up to 1 million, not "millions." Crist’s statement leaves the impression that the tests were no longer usable. However, because the tests were stored safely, the FDA has allowed the tests to be used by March 2022.
Nearly all tests have been distributed to testing sites, according to the state’s health department.
DeSantis has acknowledged the tests twice passed their expiration dates in 2021. He attributed that to little demand from testing sites during most of the second half of 2021 and pending federal approval regarding the tests’ safety.
Crist’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.
Facebook, Charlie Crist "I’m Charlie Crist, and I’m sick of Ron DeSantis" ad, ID: 2276961485777312, started running Jan. 28, 2022; ended Feb. 3, 2022
Facebook, revised Charlie Crist ad, posted Feb. 3, 2022
Email, Jeremy Redfern, press secretary, Florida Department of Health, Feb. 2, 2022
Email, Charlie Crist campaign press secretary Sam Ramirez, Feb. 2, 2022
Interview, Charlie Crist campaign spokesperson Joshua Karp, Feb. 3, 2022
Interview, Nikki Fried, Feb. 3, 2022
Tampa Bay Times, "Florida can still use those 1 million expired COVID-19 tests, after all," Jan. 11, 2022
Tampa Bay Times, "Tampa Bay residents line up at public sites for free COVID tests without appointments," Dec. 28, 2021
Associated Press, "Long Lines, Waits at COVID-19 Testing Sites in Florida," Dec. 26, 2021
Newsweek, "Video Showing Huge Queue in Florida for COVID Tests Goes Viral as Omicron Hits U.S.," Dec. 17, 2021
Johns Hopkins University, Florida coronavirus overview, accessed Feb. 1, 2022
South Florida Sun Sentinel, "DeSantis plays fast and loose with COVID facts to justify expired tests," Jan. 13, 2022
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, letter to Abbott, Jan. 7, 2022
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Expiration Dating Extension," Dec. 21, 2021
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "BinaxNOWTM COVID-19 Ag CARD," accessed Feb. 3, 2022
News4Jax.com, "1M expired COVID tests to be used in Florida after FDA grants new extension, DeSantis says," Jan. 12, 2022
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nikki Fried statement, Dec. 30, 2021
CBS News, "1 million COVID tests that expired in a Florida warehouse get FDA approval for use," updated Jan. 14, 2022
NBC News, "DeSantis confirms as many as 1 million Covid tests expired in state stockpile," Jan. 7, 2022
WFLA, "Gov. DeSantis: Up to 1 million COVID test kits expired in Florida warehouse due to low demand, not negligence," posted Jan. 6, 2022, updated Jan. 7, 2022
YouTube, WPTV post of news conference excerpt, Jan. 6, 2022
YouTube, First Coast News news conference video, Jan. 11, 2022
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