Florida DOH severs ties with Quest Diagnostics over COVID-19 testing backlog

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:46 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida health officials severed ties with Quest Diagnostics, one of the country’s largest health testing providers, after the company failed to submit timely results of 75,000 COVID-19 test results, some dating as far back as April.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called the company’s failure “egregious” and raised further questions, he said, about the reliability of testing data for making policy decisions.

“Some of this data is just flawed. I mean some of these test results can be dumped over many many weeks and in this case many many months,” the governor said Tuesday in Jacksonville.

“I’ve been preaching: Be wary of some of these test results,” he said. “This is the most egregious dump we’ve had.”

In an earlier statement, the governor said he was directing all state agencies not to rely on Quest for COVID-19 testing.

The company blamed the delay on “technical issues,” saying in a statement that “the issue has since been resolved.”

The company said there were no unusual delays in notifying people of their test results.

On Tuesday, Florida health officials added nearly 7,650 infections to the state’s tally of coronavirus cases, but noted that the number included 3,870 infections from “a large laboratory.” Without that data dump, Tuesday’s daily infections report would have been less than 3,800 new cases.

Regardless of when the cases were reported, it brought the cumulative number of infections to more than 631,000.

The 75,000 delayed test results were among 1.4 million COVID-19 tests the company said it has performed in Florida.

“Quest Diagnostics takes seriously our responsibility to report laboratory data to public health authorities in a timely manner to aid pandemic response,” the company said.

“We apologize for this matter and regret the challenge it poses for public health authorities in Florida,” the company’s statement continued.

State officials said the company informed the state Monday night of the unreported test results. The information was included in the data released by the state on Tuesday.

“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,” state officials said a statement released Tuesday.

While the data “will have historical significance,” state officials said, it “will have little impact on the status of the pandemic today.”

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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