Today, at the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) will be severing all ties with Quest Diagnostics after Quest’s failure to follow Florida law and report all COVID-19 results in a timely manner.
According to the press release, 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.
Per Quest, all individuals that tested positive were notified of their results. Therefore, while significant, this dump of test results is a data issue and does not impact the health of individuals or the spread of COVID-19 in Florida.
Quest Diagnostics is a large, nationwide lab that provides testing at private sites, as well as performing limited testing through the state.
Upon announcing this action, Governor DeSantis said, “The law requires all COVID-19 results to be reported to DOH in a timely manner. 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. As such I am directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately.”
Monday night, August 31, the Governor’s office was informed that nearly 75,000 tests, dating as far back as April, were to be entered into the DOH COVID-19 monitoring system. While the data, for the most part were over 2 weeks old – with some being almost 5 months old – the state incorporated information that would be useful and included the rest in the interest of transparency.
After the announcement, Quest issued a statement:
“Quest Diagnostics takes seriously our responsibility to report laboratory data to public health authorities in a timely manner to aid pandemic response. Due to a technical issue, our reporting of a subset of public health COVID-19 test data to the Florida Department of Health was delayed. This subset involves nearly 75,000 of the approximately 1.4 million COVID-19 tests we had performed and reported to the state.”
“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.”
With the backlog of Quest results, the positivity rate for new cases would have been 6.8%. Without the backlog, the positivity rate for new cases on August 31, 2020 is 5.9%.