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Some Florida labs only reported positive coronavirus test results, state data shows

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — New questions emerged this week about some of Florida’s coronavirus data. State reports show some labs have only been reporting positive COVID-19 test results and not passing along negative results.

8 On Your Side is digging into whether the state’s overall percent of positive test results is wrong. The question now is – could the coronavirus situation in Florida be better than previously reported?

According to the Florida Department of Health, all labs must immediately report positive and negative test results. The data is released each day. It’s a measure that’s used to determine how well Florida is fighting coronavirus.

8 On Your Side looked over the state’s daily report and found that some labs listed their percent positive as 100%. That indicates every single person they tested had coronavirus.

It sounds suspicious, so we started asking questions.

The DOH sent us the following statement:

“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.”

Some facilities in the Tampa Bay area were among those that reported every single person they tested was positive, according to state records released Wednesday morning. They include:

  • James A. Haley Veterans Micro Lab: Reported 96 tested and 96 positive
  • Morton Plant Hospital: Reported 35 tested and 35 positive
  • Tampa General Hospital Clinical Lab: Reported 25 tested and 25 positive
  • St. Joseph’s Children’s Outreach: Reported 23 tested and 23 positive

Late Wednesday, we reached out to those facilities to see if they had any negative test results. They are currently researching our questions.

In the meantime, the bigger unanswered question is whether Florida’s overall percent positive rate could be lower than 11 percent.

The state says it is actively working to correct the data. At this point, health officials don’t believe the corrections will significantly impact the positivity rate.

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