Florida Adds Over 7,000 COVID-19 Cases Due to Massive Backlog

Healthcare workers work at a walk-up COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, July 17, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

After yesterday reporting some 1,800 COVID-19 cases, the lowest increase since mid-June, Florida today reported 7,643 additional COVID-19 cases, but the majority of cases are due to a backlog at a testing lab.

The Florida Department of Health and Florida Division of Emergency Management say that, under the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, they are cutting all 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,” the state said in a news release.

Of the 7,643 new cases, 3,870 were part of the backlog, the state says. The daily increase would have been 3,773 without it.

Quest says that people tested were notified of their results, according to the state, despite those results not being reported for data purposes.

The Governor’s office was alerted that the company attempted to dump 75,000 tests dating back to April into the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system on Tuesday. Most of the data is two weeks old, but some numbers date back to five months ago.

“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,” DeSantis said in a statement. “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.”

The state says that without the backlog of Quest results, the positivity rate for new cases processed yesterday is 5.9%. With the backlog, it’s 6.8%.

It is not yet clear when the backlog will be completely cleared or if the additions will impact South Florida’s relaxing of the COVID-19 measures.

In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, local leaders have opted to keep the beaches open ahead of the labor day weekend.

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