Trust Index: Florida Department of Health includes coronavirus re-tests in statewide testing totals

COVID-19 patients are tested multiple times

In this April 20, 2020 photo, Catherine Hopkins, Director of Community Outreach and School Health at St. Joseph's Hospital, handles test samples at her desk in a COVID-19 triage and testing tent at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. New Yorks plan for taming the coronavirus hinges on taking a time-tested practice to an extraordinary level: hiring an army of people to try to trace everyone who might be infected. It's part of a common approach to controlling infectious diseases -- testing, tracing contacts and isolating those infected. But the scope is staggering even for a public health system that used the technique to combat AIDS and tuberculosis. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (John Minchillo, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the fight against coronavirus, the state of Florida releases daily reports and has created an online dashboard that is updated twice a day.

News 6 decided to take a closer look at the state’s testing numbers for coronavirus --something Gov. Ron DeSantis talks about at every briefing.

“You hear Florida did this, that, well what does that mean? What’s the basis of comparison?” DeSantis said at a press conference this week.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida has administered more than 318, 827 tests for COVID-19.

With nearly 22 million people in the state, it would appear the state has tested well over 1% of the population.

But because the state does not break out the number of re-tests in the testing totals, it's impossible to know for sure how many people have been tested, so the Trust Index on this issue is be careful when digesting these stats.

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

According to the state’s report, the Department of Health has confirmed 3,263 positive cases of coronavirus.

News 6 has confirmed that all of those people were given a handout, advising them how to discontinue home isolation.

They must have two negative tests in a row 24 hours a part, according to the handout, so presumably those 3,000 people had to be tested a total of three times.

We also know that first responders and health care workers are often re-tested before being allowed back to work.

News 6 spoke with Dr. Raul Pino with the Department of Health.

He confirmed re-tests are included in the total testing numbers, so when you see 300,000 tests, that may not mean 300,000 people.

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About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.

Emmy-nominated journalist Kristin Cason joined the News 6 team in June 2016.