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Questions surround accuracy of COVID testing reports in Florida

Three Southwest Florida labs are reporting a 100% positivity rate for COVID-19, but are the numbers right?

As Floridians watch the state’s COVID-19 dashboard daily, new questions surface about whether the case numbers are the real deal.

“We are not sure where the reporting error lies,” said Paul Hiltz, CEO of NCH Healthcare System in Collier County.

This follows a numbers breakdown. Data from the Florida Department of Health lists some Southwest Florida labs with 100% positivity rates. The DOH argues that some labs aren’t providing the negative test results, meaning it looks like everyone being tested is positive for COVID-19.

“We can at least set the record straight and report that the positivity rate at NCH is 14 percent,” Hiltz said.

Lee Health reports a positivity rate of 29%.

Starting today, we will be reporting two additional daily numbers: The positivity rate of tests processed through Lee Health labs in the last 24 hours and the number of COVID-19 patients admitted and discharged the previous day,” said Dr. Scott Nygaard, COO of Lee Health.

Lee Health and NCH insist they’re providing the right information.

When we have a positive test, the results are immediately faxed. All positive and negative results are electronically reported daily,” Nygaard said.

But it has led many to question the accuracy of the numbers.

Dr. Jay Wolfson with USF Health set the record straight. “We are still increasing at a very rapid rate. The data are true and the disease is real. We just need to have a better way of ensuring that when it’s presented by the Department of Health, that there’s not confusion.”

The Department of Health wouldn’t directly answer any questions from WINK News. Instead, it sent a blanket statement that it’s working with labs to make sure all results are reported.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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