Media Outlets Publish Disinformation on Covid-19 Tests to Attack DeSantis

Several media outlets, such as NBC News, CNN, The Daily Beast and Univision, published out-of-context reports accusing the state of Florida of letting a million Covid-19 rapid tests go to waste

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How far can a story be twisted to make it controversial and attack a political opponent? The corporate media, both in English and Spanish, continue to show no limits, especially when it comes to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Over the last week, various media outlets such as NBC News, CNN, Newsweek and recently Univision, published out-of-context reports accusing the state of Florida of letting a million Covid-19 rapid tests go to waste amidst the increase in cases of the Omicron variant.

The media, in all their headlines, said that the Covid-19 tests were lost in December amid the surge in cases; however, they all initially omitted that the one million lost tests had first expired in September and were given a three-month waiver by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in that time period. However, the low demand (Florida was just coming out of the Delta variant surge, with the number of cases dropping considerably) led to the loss of the tests.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and gubernatorial candidate, initiated the accusations against DeSantis and his administration. The media took advantage of Fried’s statement to make a big deal out of the case.

NBC News, for example, headlined: “DeSantis confirms as many as 1 million Covid tests expired in the state’s stockpile”

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Medios publicaron desinformación sobre pruebas COVID-19 para atacar a DeSantis
NBC News headline screenshot on the case of the missing Covid-19 tests.

CNN said that “up to 1 million rapid Covid-19 tests expired in Florida last month” and noted that this came “amid a winter surge of coronavirus cases that sparked a nationwide scramble for tests last month, as many as 1 million unused Covid-19 rapid test kits expired in a Florida warehouse.”

Other liberal, albeit more alternative, media outlets, such as Newsweek, ran sensationalist headlines about the confirmation of the test loss: “Floridians Furious as Ron DeSantis Confirms 1 Million COVID Tests Expired in Warehouse.”

Newsweek headline.

The Daily Beast went further and misrepresented the Florida governor’s statements. Its headline reads, “Ron DeSantis: ‘I let a million unused COVID tests expire in state stockpile.'”

“The admission came amid widespread shortages, and on the same day the Florida governor announced he would be sending a million tests out to Florida senior citizens,” reads the Beast’s lead-in.

The articles in the national English-language press were published between January 6 and 7, but then the reports reached the liberal Spanish-language media, such as Univision, which published a report alleging that the DeSantis administration let the Covid-19 tests expire in a warehouse. In the report appear renowned journalist Patricia Janiot and Guillermo Gonzalez.

What finally happened to the rapid tests?

As the missing tests were many and Florida faces some shortage of rapid tests in the wake of increased demand, again, federal regulators and manufacturers gave the go-ahead to use the tests by granting them three more months of exemption after all the controversy started in the media.

“In a Jan. 7 letter to the FDA obtained by the Herald, Abbott Diagnostics, the company that made the kits, proved that if stored at room temperature, the kits were stable for 15 months, a timeline that allowed for the additional three-month extension,” explains The Hill.

The paperwork to seek the exemption had already been briefed by the DeSantis administration. However, the key context was not addressed in the Univision report or in the Daily Best content.

In the end, the expired tests will be used. The only thing waiting was the go-ahead from federal authorities and the manufacturers of the tests. It was not that they were left to be lost in a warehouse to the disdain of the authorities as the media and some politicians like Nikki Fried made it appear.

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