Miami Dade County officials signed a multimillion dollar no-bid contract with a COVID-19 testing company in late January – weeks after a nationally publicized FDA alert warning of the risk of false negative results with the company’s tests.
The Food and Drug Administration issued the alert on Jan. 4 about the tests made by California-based company Curative. The FDA specifically advised not to use the test on asymptomatic people, though the test has been widely used that way at testing sites around the country through public contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As a result, the warning generated headlines from national and local news outlets alike, though it attracted scant attention in South Florida.
Despite the news coverage — and the fact that the company was already performing testing for Miami-Dade for months without any written contract — county officials say they were in the dark when the county’s top purchasing official, Namita Uppal, finally signed the COVID testing contract on Jan. 29 on the mayor’s behalf.
“No, we were not aware,” wrote Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for MIami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, in an email to Florida Bulldog. “As far as I understand it there isn’t an FDA update / notification list that goes to local governments and we weren’t notified by the state or local DOH.”
However, anyone can sign up to get FDA updates emailed to them on the agency’s website.