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Your Tuesday Coronavirus Update: DeSantis Cuts Ties With Quest Diagnostics

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a round table discussion in Jacksonvillle, Tuesday September 1st, 2020. Screenshot: The Florida Channel

Gov. DeSantis Says State Cutting Ties With Quest Diagnostics Over Data Dump

Matthew Peddie & Abe Aboraya, WMFE

The state of Florida has severed ties with Quest diagnostics after the state received nearly 75,000 COVID-19 test results in one day. The Florida Department of Health says the bulk of the test results are more than two weeks old. 

But it does mean that Florida added 7,643 new COVID-19 cases yesterday – more than twice the amount reported without Quest’s lab results.

The day before, the state reported 1,868 new cases.

In a statement on the Department of Health website, the DOH and the Division Emergency Management announced they are severing ties with Quest Diagnostics “after Quest’s failure to follow Florida law and report all COVID-19 results in a timely manner.”

“Quest’s failure to report nearly 75,000 results dating back to April means most of the data in today’s upload – while it will have historical significance – will have little impact on the status of the pandemic today.”

DeSantis said the data dump was “irresponsible,” and that he was directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest.

He said the test results date as far back as April.

“This is the most egregious dump we’ve had. There are people who are using this on the local to level to decide hey, school, this or that, and obviously I think everyone should just take today’s results and put them aside.”

Florida’s rate of positive test results also ticked up about 1 percentage point to 6.8%.

The DOH said all patients who had a positive result were notified by Quest Diagnostics. 

DeSantis said he is not worried that cutting Quest Diagnostics out will cause issues for people looking to get tests.

“You know, we’ve had more success with some of the more upstart labs as far as their turnaround times, so i think there’s a lot of options there. And I will tell you, when we were having the biggest backlogs, the biggest backlogs were typically from Quest.”

In a statement, Quest Diagnostic’s CEO apologized for the data dump, described the problem as a technical glitch that’s been resolved, and says it regrets the challenge it has caused to public health agencies. 

 “We apologize for this matter and regret the challenge it poses for public health authorities in Florida. The issue has since been resolved.  Importantly, the issue did not affect or delay reporting of test results to providers and patients.”

The company said doctors and patients did get the results, but they did not go into the state’s reporting system. 

Quest said it remains open to working with the DOH on coronavirus testing.

11,521 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida.

Here’s a roundup of stories you may have missed:

White House Coronavirus Adviser Denies Advocating Herd Immunity

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

A new doctor on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force says he did not advocate for a herd immunity policy. Speaking in The Villages Monday, Dr. Scott Atlas was asked about a Washington Post article which reported that he was pushing for the U.S. to adopt the Swedish model response to COVID-19. Read more here.

DeSantis, Rivkees Tell Sick Teachers and Students to Stay Home

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Health experts warned families on Monday to follow health precautions with all of Florida’s 75 school districts now offering some form of in-person instruction. Read more here. 

Orlando Rolling Out Rental Assistance Program; County Aims For Rapid Tests In Schools This Week

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Orlando is rolling out a new rental assistance program for residents affected by the recession. Read more here.

Federal Lost Wages Benefit Program Will Boost Florida’s Economy- But Not For Long

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More than 30 states have applied for the federal lost wages assistance program- and last week Florida joined that list. Read more here.

How Many Coronavirus Cases Are Happening In Schools? This Tracker Keeps Count

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Looking for a snapshot of coronavirus outbreaks in U.S. schools? The National Education Association has just launched a tracker of cases in public K-12 schools. Read more here.

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About Matthew Peddie

Matt Peddie