MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One day after the federal government announced the purchase of 150 million of the new rapid COVID-19 antigen tests from Abbott Laboratories, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged President Trump to deploy at least 10 million of those tests to the state of Florida.
“The fair distribution of these tests could have far-reaching benefits,” Rubio wrote in a letter to President Trump. “Florida, an economy largely based on tourism, has suffered a great deal of financial harm during the pandemic. Both our large industries, and the small businesses that benefit from them, continue to feel the effects of diminished travel and patronage. Providing a means of affordable and rapid testing could be the difference in those businesses shutting their doors for good, or being able to resume operations.”
Rubio’s letter continued, “I understand the demand for these tests is high. However, the State of Florida, which welcomes visitors from all over the country, presents a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the test’s efficacy. With the winter months fast approaching, we expect more travelers to enjoy our state’s warm weather and sandy beaches. Deployment of these tests, commensurate with our population, could allow Florida to efficiently combat COVID-19 and save countless lives.”
Florida’s top emergency management official called the new rapid COVID-19 antigen test “a game changer” and announced the state is “pursuing this test aggressively.” However, after learning about the federal government purchase, which carries a $750 million price tag, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz tweeted, “Spoke to @AbbottNews several times today. The Federal Government bought the entire years supply.”
— Jared MASKowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) August 27, 2020
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday granted emergency-use authorization to Abbott Laboratories for the $5 rapid-response COVID-19 antigen test. The BinaxNOW test delivers results in 15 minutes. It’ll also have an app to give people proof they were tested and they’re negative.
It is a point-of-a-care test, which means you can get one in a doctor’s office, emergency room or even some schools.
The test is the size of a credit card and is based on the same technology used to test for the flu, strep throat and other infections.
“Results can be read directly from the testing card, a similar design to some pregnancy tests,” the FDA said in a statement announcing its decision. “This simple design is fast and efficient for healthcare providers and patients and does not need the use of an analyzer.”
Abbott’s new test, however, still has limitations. Like most older coronavirus tests, the rapid test still requires a nasal swab by a health worker, and the results can be less accurate than the slower types of tests. The FDA said in a statement announcing the decision that negative results with Abbott’s test may need to be confirmed with a lab test in some cases.
The CDC recently changed its guidelines on testing. It says some people exposed won’t need to be tested, especially those without symptoms. The state is not following the advice and says it will continue to test people with and without symptoms at its sites.