FDOH acknowledges private labs not included in pending state COVID-19 test counts

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

The state admits more than 1,000 people in Florida are waiting to learn if they have the coronavirus. Gov. Ron DeSantis talks about transparency during his daily briefings and praises the Florida Department of Health for providing new COVID-19 numbers every day. But the number only includes pending tests done by the health department and fails to include tests done by independent labs such as Quest or LabCorp.

In Miami Herald’s investigative piece, the newspaper said private labs account for 90 percent of testing in the state.

In an email to WINK News Monday, FDOH acknowledged the undercount and said it’s important to note this number includes only pending tests coordinated by the health department.

“If we are able to get a true vision of what’s occurring in a community, it’s going to let us know if we’re in a peak in a particular wave, if we’re heading down,” said Jerne Shapiro, a University of Florida  epidemiology lecturer.

In Collier County, the department of health says 14 people are awaiting test results. But, Monday, NCH told us they’re awaiting nearly 40 test results.

The department of health said in its statement to us that, with private testing so widely available, most providers do not alert them prior to ordering a test, only when the result comes in.

Shapiro told us test numbers are crucial.

“This lets us know if we are about to exceed our capacity in the health care arena,” Shapiro said.

And incomplete numbers could lead to state leaders making the wrong call about when Florida can return to some form of normalcy.

“Looking at state-by-state re-opening, those are going to require certain criteria to be met before we can safely reopen an area again,” Shapiro said.

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