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Lee Health: Numbers are being accurately reported

By Staff | Jul 17, 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 percent 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 on July 16. “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,” Nygaard continued. “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 (percent) to 25 percent,” he said.

Nygaard 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,” he said.

Lee Health’s numbers can be trusted, Nygaard 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,” he said. “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.”

Nygaard also addressed the issue the day before, as well as high positivity rates being reported, after coming 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,” he said on July 15.

“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,” he said.

The new statistics released by Lee Health will only cover its hospitals and will not 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.