Florida to expand coronavirus testing in long-term care facilities, governor says

Posted at 2:14 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 16:14:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to expand coronavirus testing in long-term care facilities in Florida.

Speaking in Tallahassee on Monday afternoon, the governor directed the Florida National Guard to create more strike teams to significantly ramp up testing at those facilities.

"It's critical to identify people who test positive as early as possible, and this will help us do that," DeSantis said.

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The governor said, to start, 10 teams of four health care workers will be sent to long-term care facilities across the state.

"They will begin their mission in the counties that are being most affected by COVID-19, so primarily in southeast Florida," DeSantis said.

The Rapid Emergency Support Teams (REST) will take samples of all willing individuals, both residents and staff members.

One of the main goals is to identify people who are asymptomatic and quarantine them as quickly as possible.

"You can do a temperature check, you can check for symptoms. But people do carry this virus without a fever, without being symptomatic. And so you need to have a strike team going in and aggressively testing to try to preempt that," DeSantis said. "Testing remains an effective tool to identify an outbreak early and to mitigate any spreading of the virus."

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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 20,601 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 470 deaths.