Florida has severed ties with Quest Diagnostics — one of the biggest names in coronavirus testing — blasting the company on accusations that it dumped nearly 75,000 months-old test results into the state’s monitoring system.
In a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health said that “the law requires all COVID-19 test results to be reported to the Florida Department of Health in a timely manner.”
“To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible and Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida,” it says.
Quest informed the state that all individuals who had tested positive were notified of their results, according to the statement.
The data issue and “does not impact the health of individuals or the spread of COVID-19 in Florida,” officials said, according to local outlet WFLA.
“I believe that Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida that the people can be confident in,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said, according to the report. “As such, I am directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately.”
The Quest dump skewed the state’s statistics, which have recently shown a downward trend in daily confirmed coronavirus cases, according to health officials. As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, the state reported 7,569 new positive COVID-19 cases — but out of those, 3,870 results, from Quest, were more than two weeks old, some even from April, officials said.
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In a statement, Quest said that the delayed reporting “of a subset of public health COVID-19 test data” resulted from a “technical issue.”
“This subset involves nearly 75,000 of the approximately 1.4 million COVID-19 tests we had performed and reported to the state,” the company said.
“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.”
Quest added that it “has provided more COVID-19 testing on behalf of the citizens of Florida than any other laboratory” and believes it is “well positioned to continue to effectively aid patient care and public health response for the state.”
“We remain open to working with the state Department of Health to provide testing that meets the needs required for patient care and public health response,” the statement said.