ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors a new COVID variant and positive cases only increasing in Florida over the past month, it might be a good time to check if any leftover COVID tests are still good to use.
The Sunshine State reported 23,960 new cases in the week leading up to Labor Day – which is a 22.8 percent increase in new cases over the week before. And COVID testing levels have been relatively low throughout the state, according to the Florida Department of Health.
But what about the stockpile of expired at-home COVID-19 tests? Can they still be used?
In short, the answer is maybe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration explains expiration dates for an at-home COVID-19 diagnostic test might have been extended past the date displayed on the outer packaging.
Anyone with expired kits can check the expiration date column of the "List of Auhtorited At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests" to see if the date was extended or not. It will also show the new expiration date.
"The FDA does not recommend using at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests beyond their authorized expiration dates, which, as noted above, may go beyond the date printed on the box," health leaders explain online. "COVID-19 tests and the parts they are made of may degrade, or break down, over time."
The expired tests could show inaccurate or invalid test results, according to the FDA.
Officials are carefully monitoring one of the newer variants of the COVID-19 virus, specifically for its ability to slip past immune defenses from vaccines and previous infections.
The BA.2.86 variant is a highly mutated form of the COVID-19 virus that has only recently been discovered. According to the CDC in the U.S., the variant was first found recently in samples taken from COVID patients in Denmark and Israel.
10 Tampa Bay's Andrew Polino contributed to this report.