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Lee Health: Numbers are being accurately reported

By Staff | Jul 16, 2020

Lee Health has begun releasing daily numbers on positivity tests, admissions and discharges after Chief Operating Officer Dr. Scott Nygaard said there were false reports that some of its hospitals had a 100% positivity rate.

“I want to take this opportunity to provide an update and more clarity to the state’s COVID-19 testing reports that have been in the news over the past several days,” he said in a media conference call Thursday. “We have been working together with the Florida Department of Health in Lee County for clarification, and today I can give you a better understanding of how testing results are being reported.

“First, it’s important to understand that the Department of Health receives test results from Lee Health labs two different ways. All positive test results are immediately faxed to them and then each day we send an electronic feed of all results, both positive and negative. The reason for faxing the positive results is so the Department of Health can immediately begin contact tracing and notify people who should quarantine because they have been in close contact with someone who is COVID positive. The Department of Health manually enters the faxed results into their database on a line separate from the results that come in from the electronic feed. Duplicate results are removed so there is no over-count.

“When you look at the Florida Department of Health’s online report, you will see there are multiple entries for Lee Memorial Hospital, for example. An accurate overall positivity rate for any individual hospital can be found by combining the two reports together. When you do so, the overall positivity rate in Lee Health hospitals ranges from 15 to 25 percent.”

He said this is correct.

“We are confident that Lee Health is accurately reporting its test results, both negative and positive and we confirmed with the Lee County Department of Health yesterday that results of our testing is aligned with their numbers. We carefully follow the Department of Health’s requirements for both electronic and fax reports, and we are collaboratively working with the department to ensure data integrity.”

Lee Health’s numbers can be trusted, he added

“Southwest Florida can be assured Lee Health is being transparent in providing the community with the information they need to know to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. We have been reporting this same data every day during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic on a wide variety of platforms. We distribute the information on social media as well as sharing it with our local media organizations and elected officials. We have placed a high premium on transparency throughout this process.”

He had addressed the issue on Wednesday as well as high positivity rates being reported came under scrutiny’

“Since the start of this pandemic, Lee Health has prioritized transparency, so I want to assure you we have been accurately reporting both positive and negative test results to the state, and continue to do so on a daily basis. We are currently working with the Florida Department of Health to resolve this discrepancy,” Nygaard said during a conference call with the media.

“When we have a death in our hospitals we immediately call the Department of Health to report it, and when we have a positive test, the results are immediately faxed. All positive and negative results are electronically reported daily. It is done this way to enable the state to begin contact tracing as quickly as possible with every positive test. The sooner someone learns they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, the sooner they can take proactive quarantine measures to protect their friends and family.”

The new statistics released by Lee Health will only cover its hospitals and won’t account for tests at other labs and testing centers in the county.

“It is expected that our positivity rates will be higher than other labs, as we are actively caring for COVID-19 patients in our emergency departments and hospitals,” Nygaard said.

As of Thursday, Lee Health has 312 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals, double the daily figure the hospital was seeing a month ago. A total of 1,461 COVID-19 patients have been discharged since the beginning of the pandemic. Lee Health has conducted 36,817 tests since March. There are 1,701 tests pending.

On Wednesday, Lee Health had 37 new COVID-19 hospital admissions and 26 COVID-19 discharges.

Lee Health reported a 25% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests processed through Lee Health Labs on July 14.

The Florida Department of Health had its single-largest reporting day for coronavirus-related deaths on July 16 with 156. This does not mean all of the deaths occurred or were reported by local health care facilities on that day but that they were released in the state report that day after reports were processed.

There have been 4,782 COVID-19 related deaths in the state, an increase of more than 20% since data recorded 10 days earlier.

There have been 315,775 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state out of more than 2.8 million tested, for a rate of approximately 11% positives.

In Lee County, two earlier deaths were reported on July 15 of a 62-year-old male and a 63-year-old male from more than two weeks earlier. The last death recorded was on July 10 of a 49-year-old male. There have been 206 deaths from COVID-19 in Lee County, an increase of 23% since July 6.