Florida cuts ties with major COVID-19 testing lab after massive data dump
Tuesday's "egregious dump" was the Quest Diagnostic's last straw for Gov. Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

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Quest Diagnostics released 75,000 tests Tuesday dating back to April.

Ahead of the Department of Health and Division of Emergency management releasing its daily COVID-19 report Tuesday, the agencies announced that all of Florida’s agencies would end their testing deals with a lab that revealed thousands of unreported results Tuesday.

Quest Diagnostics is one of the largest private COVID-19 testing labs in the nation. Through Monday, the labs’ various sites had delivered nearly 1 million of the 6.3 million diagnostic tests completed in Florida.

The data dump Tuesday includes nearly 75,000 results dating back to April.

“The law requires all COVID-19 results to be reported to DOH in a timely manner,” DeSantis said. “To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible. I believe that Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida that the people can be confident in.”

DOH’s daily report is more than three hours behind schedule Tuesday.

Following a data dump last month by Niznik Lab Corp, which DeSantis said was a new player in the COVID-19 testing market, the Governor told reporters he asked DOH to make consequences for labs that end up skewing data. That day, the department placed an asterisk over that day’s reported cases, which included more than 4,000 cases from a 46-day period.

“I think skewing data by letting it accumulate and dumping it leaves a bad impression,” he said.

The Governor’s Office was told Monday evening the Quest findings would be entered this morning into the state’s tracking system.

Without the backlog of Quest results, the positivity rate for 3,773 new cases on Monday is 5.9%. With Quest’s results, the report will show 7,643 new cases and a 6.8% positivity rate.

It’s not the first time the DeSantis administration has accused Quest of dumping data. The lab group unloaded data in early July, he said. But complaints date back to late March, when the lab group sent more than 4,000 patient test results, causing a 25% spike.

“I’ve been preaching, be wary of some of these test results because it’s about when the lab puts it in, they don’t do all the negatives,” DeSantis said. “But this is the most egregious dump we’ve had.”

Officials who look at data to form local policy should ignore today’s results, he added.

“There’s a lot of these companies that are making huge, huge amounts of money,” DeSantis said. “Go back a year, they would have never thought they could have made this much money. The problem is, when you’re sloppy with it, it ends up impacting people’s lives.”

The Governor’s critics have suggested the state is trying to limit the number of COVID-19 tests in the state. But when asked about the state’s ability to process results going forward, he undercut those accusations.

“We’ve had more success with some of the more upstart labs in terms of their turnaround times, so I think that there’s a lot options there,” DeSantis said.

Comments by White House Coronavirus Task Force adviser Dr. Scott Atlas during a three-stop tour through Florida on Monday likely fanned the flames.

“When you start a program of testing simply to detect positive cases among asymptomatic low-risk groups, the outcome from that is to close the schools,” Atlas said. “The goal of testing is not to close things. The goal of testing is to protect the vulnerable while we open schools and open the economy.”

“There must be a prioritization because we need to use the testing not to lock down society. We need to have the testing result in something very positive, and that is decreasing deaths.”

Both Atlas and DeSantis’ spokesman said they were not downplaying testing.

On Tuesday, DeSantis again laid into the shortcomings of testing.

“The test result, understand what that does. That causes someone to have to isolate for two weeks,” he told reporters. “You’re taking someone out of their job. You’re taking someone potentially out of school. Those are huge, huge consequences.”

DeSantis added: “I think this whole testing regime and everything and the reporting has been problematic, to say the least. I’m not saying you don’t consider it at all, but I think you have to consider it knowing the limitations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shifted toward a symptom-based focus for once-positive people returning to work because tests can pick up old virus strands. Most people aren’t even contagious when they tested positive yet quarantined for two weeks, DeSantis said, citing a New York Times article from Saturday.

Up to 90% of those testing positive carried barely any virus, according to the report. And the more virus someone has, the more likely they are to be contagious.

“This is not a way a lot of this information really was designed to be used,” DeSantis said. “I think we’ve fallen into a trap because we do want data, which is good, but some of this data is just flawed.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


2 comments

  • S.B. ANTHONY

    September 1, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Again, the “governor” is playing with the numbers. DeSantis doesn’t want ANY numbers. If the numbers are low, there aren’t any cases and then he can pretend that Covid-19 is behind us. Nothing to see here folks! It’s all behind us. What BS!

  • Margan lustin

    September 1, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Lying de santis abt true huge positive cases again.
    Claims 75000 positive results today from back to april.misleading. ony 1000 were.rest were recent few weeks. Doubletalk again.

    Says law requires results in timely manner.DOES HE THINK NOW 2 WEEKS GET RESULTS TIMELY???
    SINCE AUG 1 HE FIRED MAJORITY PRIVATE LABS WITH CONSISTENTLY 15000 10000 12000 DAILY POSITIVES CASES RETURNED WITHIN 2 TO 3 DAYS RESULTS SO rcould overwhelm HIS CONTROLLED UPSTART INEFFICIENT FEW LABS to take 2 weeks now for weeks ongoing.HIS UPSTART LIKE
    FEW LABS HE CONTROLS HAVE 2 WEEK TURNAROUND IS WHY IN 1 DAY EARLY AUGUST CASES WENT 12000 TO 4000 A FALSE LIE.

    That he orderED SINCE AUG 1 site tests many thousands daily go home wait NOW 2 weeks results.
    HIS EARLY AUGUST CHANGES OF SAYING CLEARLY ON TV HE STARTING COUNT ONLY HOSPITAL DAILY POSITIVES AND DEATHS LEAVES OUT THOUSANDS DYING HOME NOT COUNTED ANYMORE.BECAUSE HE LIES ABT PRIOR LABS TO USE 2 WEEK RESULTS LABS HE CONTROLS.

    Leaves OUT ALL ASYMTOMATIC CARRIERS FROM TOTAL POSITIVES DAILY SINCE AUG 1. TO USE JUST ER DIAGNOSIS AS TOTAL POSITIVE WHICH IS SMALL PORTION THOSE SENT HOME ARE POSITIVE.

    DELIBERATE OUTRAGEOUS LIE SAY TODAY HAS MORE SUCCESS WITH “SOME HIS UPSTART LABS” IS JUST 1 SMALL ONE SO CAN USE THIS LIE.REST 2 WEEKS.TOO LATE.DIE AT HOME.UNDER EARLY AUGUST DE SANTIS LIE ER VISIT’S DIAGNOSIS BETTER TRACK WHEN TRUTH IS LEAVES OUT ALL SITES AT HOME positive waiting and all carriers.

    De santis nor trump have counted many thousands or true daily positive since 15000 cases and changed to deceitful tracks trend earlying august.
    To now 4 weeks falsify true daily positive casession still record highs.since majority dying from virus at home under his new setup they don’t die hospitals so he hasent counted at least many thousands more dead at home weekly.every wek.it’s increasing per medical examiners reports for 8 weeks straight from virus deaths.

    Saying today to “start a program to simply detect positive cases among low risk groups outcome is to close schools”
    WHAT BULL****.BEFORE AUGUST 1 WAS RIGHTLY CALLING FOR EVERYONE TEST SO CATCH ASYMPTOMATIC CARRIERS AVOID WIDE SPREADING.

    NOW SAYING THEY CANT GET TESTS ANYMORE PER TRUMPS NEW CDC ORDERS,
    CDC says 40 percent are asymtomatic carriers. So now this week de santis per trump not testg them.BECAUSE THEY LOW RISK GET INFECTED.
    BULLS*** DE SANTIS BECAUSE NOW THEY WONT GET TESTED 40 PERCENT ARE THESE CARRIERS THAT WHILE LOW RISK THEMSELVES DE SANTIS NOW AND TRUMP,NOW LETTING MILLIONS OF THEM INFECTING AT RISK AMERICANS AND FLORIDA.

    WHILE PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE HE SAYS!!!
    HOW IS IT PROTECTING MANY MANY MILLIONS OF LIVING AT HOME AND GOING OUT VULNERABLE FOR HIM
    TO NOW PER TRUMP changes de santis doing EXPOSE THEM TO 40 PERCENT CARRIERS UNKNOWINGLY INFECTING TO INFINITY
    THE VULNERABLE??? ALL AGES NOW WITH CONDITIONS AND AT HOME RETIREE SENIORS NOW TO BE PRISONERS IN HOMES TO BE PROTECTED TO INFINITY???Not able to go out NOW AT ALL. NO QUALITY OF LIFE NOW DUE DE SANTIS .

    OPEN SCHOOLS??? TEACHERS STUDENTS SICK DYING SCHOOLS ACROSS COUNTRY CLOSING AFTER OPEN 2 WEEKS. OPEN ECONOMY. NO WAY POSSIBLE AS EVERY DECEITFUL “NEW CHANGE FOR AMERICA AND FLORIDA”
    CONTINUES WITH NEW TRACKING METHODS TO DELIBERATELY HIDE MAJORITY CASES AND DEATHS DAILY.
    NEW DECEITFUL CHANGES IN LOWER TESTING DOES RESULT IN SOMETHING POSITIVE AS HE SAYS DECEITFULLY. It RESULTS IN HIDDEN TRUE DAILY DEATHS AND POSITIVE CASES LETTING HIM LIE REPORTING ONLY ONE THIRD DEATHS AND CASES UNDER DECEITFUL CHANGES EAREY AUGUST WHEN 15000 CASES AND 200 DEAD EVERY SINGLE WEK.IS MORE FOR BOTH Now.he hides 3X true amts daily switched only counts hospitals THESE ONGOING INCREASING NUMBERS STILL RISING.

    TESTS SURE RESULT IN POSITIVE DECREASING DEATHS.
    BECAUSE ONLY REASON HE ONLY COUNTS PORTION OF TRUE DEATHS FROM COUNTING SINCE EARLY AUGUST AUGUST ONLY HOSPITAL DEATHS NOT MAJORITY AT HOME DEAD ANYMORE.LIKE
    HIS PRIORIZATION NEEDING USE TESTING NOT LOCKING DOWN SOCIETY IS TO LOWER IT.DELAY RESULTS.THOUSANDS DIE AT HOME,HE DOESNT COUNT THEM ANYMORE.
    SO HE IS DECREASING DEATHS SINCE ONGOING RECORD HIGH DEATHSin july and early august BY SETTING UP TRUMP DECEITFUL TRACKING METHODS EARLY AUGUST methods to not count majority deaths and cases.

    His statements…we must…we need…90 percent tested have lot virus.lie barely any. Any virus can infect.
    E do want Dakota not flawed. All flawed data comes directly from trump and de santis.
    Data thru to early August showed huge weeks 8 now on ongoing surging.
    That’s why de santis and trump,are changing some semblance of right testg all and deceit fully set up ongoing changes since augetting 1 and 3 days ago MORE RULES TO CAUSE MORE DEATHS AND CASES HIDDEN UNDER CHANGED DEADLY DISASTROUS RULES.

    THE INFORMATION FROM ASYMPTOMATIC TESTS WERE DESIGNED TO QUARTINE CARRIERS infecting huge numbers,HE STOPPED TESTING THEM.

    The information was designed to get results back 2 to 3 days so people could get treatment.
    His flawed Aug 1 tracks trend was fire labs resultsince 2 to 3 days.hire few small upstarts now since early August 2 weeks so die at home positivite.not counted by trump or de santis.

    DECEITFUL DEADLY TRACKING METHODS ORDERED EARLY AUGUST AND CDC 3 DAYS AGO ALL PER TRUMP ARE DESIGNED TO HIDE TRUE DEATHS TRUE CASES. BECAUSE BOTH HAVE CON TINTED TO RISE SEVERELY NOW STEADY UP FOR 7 WEEKS.

    18 DEATHS TODAY. BECAUSE THE CHANGED TRACKING THOUSANDS WEEKLY DIEEE AT HOME WAITING DELIBERATE SETUP 2 WEEKS GET RESULTS AND NOT COUNTED BY DE SANTIS ORDERED TRUMP.THOUSANDS MORE DAILY.

    HOW HE CAN PARROT DEADLY TRUMP…MUST OPEN SCHOOLS..MUST OPEN ECONOMY.WHEN BOTH CONTINUE TO BE BEATEN DOWN AND CLOSED BY OUT OF CONTROL VIRUS
    DE SANTIS SOUNDS LIKE A DEADLY LYING MORON WITHOUT A THOUGHT TO HUMANITY.
    HIS CAREER IS DONE. HIS FALSE TRACKING SAYING 3000 AND 15 DEATHS HAS REACHED ABSURB. IT’S OVER 20000 DAILY POSITIVE NOW AND OVER 300 WEEK DEAD GOING UP TREND STILL.NOTHING HAPPENED SLOW IT.LOT HAPPENED INCREASE IT.VOTERS MUST EXPOSE TOTALLY CONNED DE SANTIS DOING MASS MURDER.
    SOME GOVERNORS REFUSE DO CHANGES AS HAVE A BRAIN KNOW IT BACKFIRES TO MORE DEATHS MORE CASES DAILY AND REFUSE HIDE THEM LIKE TRUMP AND DE SANTIS.NOTHING IS DECLINING EXCEPT THE TRUTH FROM DE SANTIS AND TRUMP.VIRUS IS AT CATASTROPHIC levels for cases and deaths and hidden under newer deceitful tracks changes.

    Biden must do visual charts showing medical examiners reports vs their fake ones.lagging 8 weeks its still every single week been worse and worse and will to infinity.

    Nurses caretakers drs dying.were healthy.younger dying. We’re healthy.schools not safe trump said cdc safety orders too expensive cut funding.now 2 weeks teacheresults kids staff drivers already sick and dying.

    More they open worse it gets. On and on.changing rules for tests and results reporting to show lower
    Declining when rising steady record highs biden must let voters know why the numbers are fake.trump base idiots need visuals.he must let voters know trick since early august NOW BEFORE SOON TOO LATE.NIKKI TELL HIM
    PLEASE

Comments are closed.


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