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Florida Department of Health confirms missing negative coronavirus test results in state's infection rate

Some labs not reporting negative test result data
Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 15, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health confirms it is missing negative test results from small, private labs across the state.

That data is needed to give the most accurate depiction of the positive COVID-19 infection rates in Florida.

In a statement to WPTV, the Florida Department of Health said the following:

All COVID-19 cases are confirmed through diagnostic and antigen testing and then reported to the state by the labs performing the testing. Private and public laboratories are required to report positive and negative test results to the state immediately.

In recent days, the Florida Department of Health noticed that some smaller, private labs weren't reporting negative test result data to the state. The Department immediately began working with those labs to ensure that all results were being reported in order to provide comprehensive and transparent data.

As the state continues to receive results from various labs, the Department will continue educating these labs on proper protocol for reporting COVID-19 test results.

In recent state reports, showing the COVID-19 testing results by laboratory in Florida, more than 1,100 labs have reported test results to the state through July 13.

Of those labs, more than 460 reported 100 percent positivity rates.

Dozens of labs reported just one positive case and zero negatives, potentially indicating minimal involvement in testing.

But larger labs are also reporting hundreds of positive cases with no negatives, which is surprising to local doctors and a local lawmaker.

  • Orlando Health reported 512 positive cases and 10 negative cases for a 98 percent infection rate
  • LAB24 Inc, with a location in Boca Raton, reported 464 positive test results and zero negative cases for a 100 percent positive infection rate.
  • The VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach Lab reported 115 positive test results and zero negative results for a 100 percent positive infection rate.
  • Florida Community Health Centers Inc. reported 67 positive cases and zero negative cases for a 100 percent positive rate.

Florida Community Health Centers responded Wednesday to WPTV, saying they are not sure why the numbers do not appear accurately depicted in the data, but FCHC said their positivity rate is around 26 percent. They also send other tests to be processed by other labs.

State Rep. Toby Overdorf said he is following the concerns, knowing a lot of big decisions are made based on the infection rate data.

"We need to make sure our local officials are getting the accurate data, rather than data that is inflated because we don’t have enough manpower," Overdorf said. "It takes away from that feeling that this is a situation we can trust and that we can really look at what’s happening here."

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A Treasure Coast doctor, Dr. Mike Adelberg, with Treasure Coast Medical Associates, Inc., also feels the infection rates being portrayed are not completely accurate.

“It’s been made clear to us by the department of health that they are incapable of handling anywhere near the amount of data they’ve been receiving,” Adelberg said.

He said it impacts his patients.

"They’re just terrified and confused. They’re getting so many mixed messages," Adelberg said.

The Palm Beach Health Network also provided a statement Wednesday:

St. Mary’s Medical Center is reporting all results of COVID-19 tests, both positive and negative, to the Agency for Healthcare Administration’s Emergency Status System, and in the portal required by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. As directed, we report only positive results to the Palm Beach County Department of Health (DOH).