Florida hospital admits its COVID positivity rate is 10x lower than first reported

Positivity rates have been skyrocketing at various Florida labs, raising concerns of misreporting.

Updated: July 15, 2020 - 11:33am

A Florida hospital handling COVID-19 tests confirmed to media this week that its near-100% positivity rate was overstated by a factor of 10, raising already-heightened concerns in the state about possible overreporting of the number of confirmed infections.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management posts a daily coronavirus update on its website, which features a list of the positivity rates of every COVID testing facility in the state. Hundreds of labs and hospitals throughout Florida are regularly testing state residents for the coronavirus. 

In recent days, numerous facilities have begun reporting 100% positivity rates, figures significantly higher than the statewide average of around 15%. Many of those labs claim to have tested only one patient, though others with 100% rates report testing dozens and sometimes hundreds of patients. 

Orlando news station Fox 35 said on Monday that it undertook an investigation of those "astronomical figures," after which several medical facilities confirmed that their actual positive rates were much lower than those reported to the state government.

The news station reported that area hospital Orlando Health "confirmed errors in the report," with hospital officials stating their their "positivity rate is only 9.4 percent, not 98 percent."

Another Orlando-area lab, Veteran’s Medical Center, listed "a positivity rate of 76 percent," but a company official said that "the positivity rate for the center is actually 6 percent."

The inflated numbers come as Florida has been recording record numbers of COVID-19 infections, though an analysis of state data by Just the News last week revealed that the state's recent record-breaking counts of infections may have been overestimated by as much as 30%.