DeSantis downplays COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms, calling it a 'lockdown by stealth'

DeSantis downplays COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms, calling it a 'lockdown by stealth'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisMike Ehrmann/Getty Images
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis downplayed COVID-19 testing, saying it's unnecessary for people without symptoms of the virus.
  • He called the testing "a lockdown by stealth" and said it's unlikely to "yield very much clinical value."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis downplayed COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms, calling it a "lockdown by stealth."

When asked at a press conference on Friday about the lack of available tests in Florida, DeSantis said that it's unnecessary for people who are not experiencing any symptoms to test for the coronavirus.

"The lowest value testing is just people who are just going to test to say 'hey, am I sick?'" he said.

DeSantis argued that no one sought out testing to determine they were sick unless they were presenting symptoms of an illness before COVID-19.

"This is kind of a new thing where they've been saying to go out and test all the time," he said.


Though DeSantis said anyone is free to get tested if they want, "it's unlikely to yield very much clinical value for you."

"It's essentially a lockdown by stealth," he argued.

DeSantis' opinion contradicts the prevailing point of view among public health experts, who say that more, not less testing is key to limiting the virus' spread.

"Our esteemed governor seems to think that if we just do not look for the problem the problem will disappear," Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Public Health Professor at the University of South Florida told Insider.

"Wishing it will go away is not an effective response," he added.


Edwin Michael, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida, told Insider "testing is important because the majority of cases from omicron are asymptomatic but these individuals can spread infection including to older more vulnerable individuals."

"Without testing there is a danger that unchecked asymptomatic transmission of the virus in the community might lead to yet another more transmissible and immune evasive variant to emerge and spread," he said. "This will thus lead to repeat cycles of infection requiring repeat booster vaccinations and perhaps even social mitigation measures to contain such cycles of waves going forward."

"Thus it is more prudent to enlarge testing and isolation, and encourage the take up of booster vaccinations, including planning for a 4th vaccination (like Israel), to get a hold of the pandemic once and for all," he added.

Michael said that DeSantis should be encouraging vaccinations and testing rather than saying it is not necessary.

DeSantis has long opposed measures such as increased testing and vaccine mandates to combat COVID-19.


His latest comments come just days after Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo called for people to stop relying on COVID-19 testing and his announcement that the state will be prioritizing "high-value testing" as the state experiences a record-setting COVID-19 surge.

DeSantis' administration also recently admitted that 1 million COVID-19 rapid tests were left to expire in a Florida warehouse in December. A Florida health official said the tests weren't used because of a lack of demand, despite long lines being reported at testing facilities around the state during the holidays.

Public health experts recommend waiting five to seven days after any known coronavirus exposure to get a COVID test, Insider previously reported.

Even asymptomatic people could still spread disease, experts say, so knowing you're positive could help protect others and prevent the spread of the virus.

A negative test should also be treated with caution, experts told Insider, since test results only reflect your level of infection at that moment.


Ultimately, experts said that more people should be getting tested more regularly.