Gov. DeSantis: Florida has seen a stabilization in percent positivity of new cases

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — During a roundtable discussion primarily focused on mental health and the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday in Tampa, Governor Ron DeSantis said the state has recently seen a stabilization in the percent positivity for new cases.

According to Florida health officials, percent positivity for new cases is the number of people who test PCR (nose swabs) or antigen-positive for the first time divided by all the people tested that day. That does not include people who already tested positive once and have been re-tested to see if they’re still infected.

“When you look at the percent (positivity),… what we’ve seen in the last four or five days has been more in the 11 to 13 (percent positivity range). We did have one day at 15 (percent). So I think, at a minimum, that’s a stabilization,” DeSantis said.

Percent positivity – Florida Department of Health July 2
Percent positivity – Florida Department of Health July 16

“We had all of May and the beginning of June, we were under five percent and that’s where we want to be. I think we’ll get there but it’s going to take more work going forward,” he said. “If you look we had 116,000 test results today. That’s an incredible amount of test results. That’s more than the country was doing if you go back into the middle of March on a daily basis and we’re testing at a clip that nobody thought we would ever be testing at.”

DeSantis said that the state is continuing to see an increase in cases mainly because of the amount of testing being conducted, including the Tampa Bay area.

“I do think you’ve seen stabilization in the Tampa Bay area in terms of their percent positive,” he said.

Out of the 67 counties in Florida, Hillsborough County is ranked fourth in terms of the highest number of positive coronavirus cases.

According to the Florida Department of Health’s daily coronavirus report, Hillsborough County had 21,557 total cases as of Thursday morning. The highest was Broward County at 35,566 total cases.

The 10 counties that make up the Tampa Bay area, however, reported 1,983 of the 13,965 new cases on Thursday as well as 72 of the 156 new deaths reported and 145 of the 491 new hospitalizations reported.

During the open-question period for reporters, News Channel 8 Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi asked the governor about recent state coronavirus reports that show some labs have only been reporting positive COVID-19 test results and not passing along negative results.

She asked who is in charge of checking the data and how if something as simple as reporting negative results is overlooked, how can residents, media and individuals in general trust the rest of the numbers being reported.

“When people are doing the tests, the labs report into a system. You may run 1,000 tests and you may report 100 positives. If you have five extra positives that you don’t put in there, that’s really on the lab to comply with the law,” DeSantis said.

He continued by saying that, due to a backlog in results, some labs might report the positives to get the information to the state and will later report the negatives in a “data dump.”

“Obviously I want every single thing reported perfectly by the labs, but as we’ve seen in this process, we have a system, and… we do some testing, the hospitals a lot of testing, there’s a lot of testing going on. That stuff gets sent a lot of it to commercial labs. Our state labs can do stuff but I mean they only do a limited bandwidth as we’re trying to expand it,” he said.”

The governor mentioned how the state has recently severed ties with a particular lab because patients were not getting their test results back in a timely fashion.

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