Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo issued new guidance for COVID-19 tests on Jan. 4 in a bid to reduce the strain on the state’s testing centers.
So many people are using the centers the availability of tests is under pressure.
“We are going to scale back,” Ladapo told reporters at a press conference. “We’re coming back to something sensible.”
People have been flooding Florida testing sites, leading to long lines, he said.
Instead of restricting testing, however, Ladapo said he would place a new emphasis on “high-value” testing against those of “low-value” in order to give priority to tests that would “likely change outcomes” based on a positive or negative result.
For example, someone who is elderly with pre-existing medical conditions and is having symptoms he regards as high value.
Someone who is otherwise healthy with no pre-existing medical issues and with no symptoms is low value, he explained.
Ladapo said people need to get back to a “sense of normalcy” in society.
“We need to unwind this sort of planning and living one’s life around testing,” Ladapo said.
“It’s really time for people to be living; to make the decisions they want regarding vaccination; to enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity; and to unwind this preoccupation with only COVID as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life.
“And we’re going to start that in Florida.”
Ladapo said Omicron is “on the rise” in Florida and cases are “vertically climbing,” but people are being “whipped into a frenzy” over it and there is no need because the variant is “much less violent” than other variants that have spawned from the COVID-19 virus.
“What you’re seeing in cases is actually just a fraction of what’s happening in the community,” he said. “For example, the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] estimates that only one in four cases of COVID are diagnosed, that may be an even bigger ratio with Omicron.”
He said that Florida has seen a rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations, but added it is not comparable to the case rise.
“A substantial share, based on the data we have from some of our hospitals of the patients in hospitals with COVID, are there in the hospital with COVID rather than for COVID.”
In other words, people who go to the hospital are there for other reasons and then test positive for COVID-19 because hospitals test everyone who comes for treatment, Ladapo said.
The surgeon general said that federal leadership had “created a monster” in public health.
“What’s happened in the country is that people have forgotten, or abandoned basic public health principles,” he said. “Instead, they have opted for things that are anti-public health.”
He said anti-public health is “taking away people’s options” and “ability to choose.”
“Anti-health tends to be mandates,” he continued. “Anti-public health is losing touch with sensibility.”
The Surgeon General’s office wants to educate and provide people with the ability to make “better decisions.”
“That’s what public health used to be,” Ladapo said. “The federal approach has been to mandate and to create division and strife and really politicize this pandemic.”
Getting back to basic principles of public health is important, he said and part of that is prevention such as weight loss, exercise, and vitamin intake.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was present at the press conference and said COVID-19 tests have turned into “a testing industrial company” and are a “cash cow” for people.
“There’s people making huge amounts of money,” he said of the COVID-19 testing companies.
DeSantis urged everyone to live their lives like they did before the pandemic.