Mixed messages from health officials on when to get tested for COVID

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
A health care worker directs a person to use a nasal swab for a self-administered test at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami Beach Convention Center Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

Health officials have been giving out opposing recommendations about COVID-19 testing, which has left many people confused. They just want straight answers.

For years, the guidance has been if you were exposed to COVID-19, go get tested. And as the omicron variant continues to spread, we’re seeing longer testing lines. But now, Florida leaders are offering different protocols.

Even though the CenturyLink Sports complex testing site closed at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, there were still cars lined up minutes and hours later waiting to get a test.

Damian Lozano lined up to get a test. “Every single place you go to it’s the line is super long, super long,” Lozano said.

But the answer to who should be tested has changed, according to Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “We’re coming back to something sensible. Which is, we really… really want you to get tested if you have symptoms. And you have risk factors,” said Dr. Ladapo.

During a press conference in Collier County on Tuesday, Ladapo pushed a change in perspective regarding who should be tested. “It’s not about restricting access to testing. It’s about deprogramming or denormalizing this idea that you can’t go anywhere unless you get tested,” Dr. Ladapo said.

This new guidance has created mixed messaging at the state and federal level. It also ahs those waiting in these long COVDI-19 testing lines confused and frustrated.

Taden Keith lives in Fort Myers. “my work goes by the health department rules, but the CDC says something different,” Keith said.

“It’s not fair for us as the people. We elected them to be our leaders, and they’re not leading,” said Lozano.

Jacob Staho says he doesn’t know what to believe. “You don’t know who to believe at this point,” Staho said.

Testing is particularly important to Staho. His mom has Lyme disease and MS, which leaves her extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. This is a way for Staho and his family to keep her alive. “We’re going above and beyond on everything we can do to keep her here,” he said.

“You got to be careful on who gets it and how you spread it. So you may not have symptoms but you still can have it,” said Staho.

During today’s press conference, Governor DeSantis said that he believes the new messaging will make it easier for symptomatic people to get tested. He says healthy people who get tested to see if they’re sick put more strain on the testing capacity.

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