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Questions remain over labs reporting 100 percent positive cases

WASHINGTON – Florida crossed the 300,000 mark for cases Wednesday and the overall positivity rate since the start of the pandemic has reached 11 percent.

But scrutiny over reported data is causing some to question how accurate that positivity rate truly is, with more than 450 labs reporting 100 percent positivity in the state’s latest report.

The Department of Health has in part blamed the missing data on private labs failing to report negative results.

“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,” a department spokesperson said in a written statement. “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.”

We obtained an email sent to a private lab by the Department of Health at 6 PM Tuesday, clarifying that negative test results do need to be reported.

We spoke with the private lab, which asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the department. The lab told us previous to that email it had only been asked to report positive cases.

We also spoke with a hospital, which again declined to provide an on camera interview.

The hospital said it has routinely reported positive and negative cases, but has experienced ongoing issues with the spreadsheet.

Sometimes missing positive cases and now missing its negatives. Of the more than 450 facilities with zero negative results, only 81 reported more than ten total tests.

In fact, the vast majority reported only a single test.

With the state reporting 3.3 million tests statewide, the lab and hospital we spoke with both agreed, even as they go back to clear up the reporting errors, they find it unlikely it will make any significant change to the overall positivity rate.

We first contacted the department of health for comment on this story last night, but have so far not received a response as to whether it believes these reporting errors have impacted the positivity rates it reports to the public.