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Florida Expands Coronavirus Testing Criteria To Allow Doctors Discretion

Brynn Anderson
AP Photo
Patients wait to be seen at a medical testing site, set up amid the virus outbreak at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

As of March 15, the state of Florida has expanded its criteria for coronavirus testing to allow doctors to test at their discretion.

The new state Department of Health guidance is a significant expansion of the previous criteria, which restricted testing mainly to those who traveled internationally or were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The new DOH testing guidance for doctors is as follows:

Test if your patient is exhibiting symptoms of acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath) AND meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Persons who have had a close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case
  2. Persons hospitalized with acute lower respiratory illness of unknown origin
  3. History of travel to or from an affected geographic area with widespread community transmission
  4. History of international travel or a cruise
  5. ?65 with chronic health conditions
  6. Immunocompromised persons

If your patient does not meet the above criteria, testing may occur based on clinician’s judgement.
During a press conference on Tuesday evening, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said two groups should be prioritized for testing: the elderly, who are at higher risk for serious complications, and health care workers.

"They need to know, if they've been exposed, if they're positive, if they show symptoms. Do they have COVID-19 or not? We want to make sure they have the ability to do it," he said.

DeSantis said the state has enough kits to do about 250,000 tests and more are on the way. He also said he testing should be available free of charge.

Related: Local, State And National Coronavirus Coverage


Source: Florida Department of Health in Duval County spokeswoman Samantha Epstein.

Contact Jessica Palombo at

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP