Florida’s COVID-19 Cases Spike Due to 7-week Backlog in Reported Tests

August 12, 2020 Updated: August 12, 2020

Florida health officials on Wednesday confirmed 8,183 new COVID-19 infections, but over 4,000 of those were due to a seven-week backlog of cases released by a lab in a single day, severely distorting the daily case count data.

The backlog of testing data came from Niznik Lab Corp in Miami, dating back to June 23, the state health department said in an Aug. 12 release, which reported Aug. 11 and earlier COVID-19 data.

Officials blamed the backlog on problems with reporting, which have since been corrected. Floridians whose tests were processed by the lab were notified ongoingly about whether they were infected with the CCP virus, authorities said.

“Therefore, this backlog severely skews today’s daily report for Miami-Dade County and is not reflective of current trends,” officials said.

Miami-Dade County on Wednesday reported 4,104 new COVID-19 infections as of Aug. 11 (pdf), bringing the total number infections in the county to 138,330. The Aug. 11 test positivity rate, which is the number of people who test positive for the first time divided by all the people tested that day, was 18.3 percent.

By comparison, the new daily infection counts in Miami-Dade for the previous three days ranged between 1,164 and 1,513, while the positivity rates ranged from 13.6 percent to 10.8 percent, giving an indication of how anomalous Wednesday’s readings are.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement that 2,941 of Wednesday’s Miami-Dade County’s new daily COVID-19 cases can be attributed to the backlog.

“The lab reported over 4,000 cases, occurring over the past 7 weeks, of which 2,941 were cases in Miami‐Dade County reflected in today’s statistics, but which had not been reported to DOH until today,” he said.

It follows an incident last month when an Orlando hospital was reported in DOH statistics (pdf) as having a 98 percent positivity rate, which was later corrected to 9.4 percent. Since July 29, Florida’s overall positivity rate has ranged between 12.05 percent and 8.36 percent (pdf).

Florida on Wednesday reported 212 new COVID-19 deaths, down from a record-setting 276 a day earlier, bringing the total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the state to 8,765.

With a total of 545,040 confirmed infections as of Wednesday, Florida has the second most CCP virus cases in the country, behind California, which has over 586,000.

Most patients who become infected with the CCP virus eventually recover. The virus primarily causes severe illness in the elderly and infirm, with 50 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Florida occurring among those 65 and older.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM