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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Florida severs ties with national lab over failure to report COVID-19 test results

Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered state agencies to sever ties with Quest Diagnostics after claiming the company failed to follow Florida law and report all COVID-19 results in a timely manner.

The move means the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Division of Emergency Management will no longer count on the private, nationwide laboratory to provide results to COVID-19 tests that are being administered across the state.

The decision to break ties with Quest Diagnostic came after the company failed to report nearly 75,000 results dating back to April. The lab claims that everyone who tested positive was notified of their results, the report states.

The large dump of test results was expected to skew statistics released by the Florida Department of Health and doesn’t impact the health of people or the spread of COVID-19 in Florida, a report states.

“The law requires all COVID-19 results to be reported to DOH in a timely manner,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “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.”

The governor’s office was informed Monday night that the 75,000 test results dating as far back as April were being entered into the DOH COVID-19 monitoring system. While the data for the most part was more than two weeks old – some of it was almost five month old – the state incorporated information that would be useful and included the rest in the interest of transparency, the report says.

Without the backlog of Quest results, the positivity rate for new cases on Aug. 31 was 5.9 percent. With the additional cases, it jumped to 6.8 percent, according to the report.