Florida changes the way it reports COVID-19 data to focus on daily numbers, not long term testing

DOH: Daily virus report will now ‘focus on the number of tests reported to the state by day’

Florida Department of Health.
Florida Department of Health. (WKMG 2020)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health reported nearly 4,300 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday as state health officials announced changes to the information that appears on the COVID-19 daily reports and interactive dashboard.

For months since the state launched the dashboard tracking COVID-19 testing, cases, deaths and hospitalizations the state’s overall testing number-- for people who have been tested since March -- has been included in an overall positivity rate. On Tuesday, that number was not in the overall report or the interactive dashboard.

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The DOH said it was “making adjustments to the COVID-19 dashboard and daily report to provide clear, accurate information for Florida families” and no longer including that higher overall testing count and positivity rate from that data, which was more than 6 million tested as of Monday.

What is available is the daily positivity rate -- for people who tested positive for the first time -- compared to the tests reported to the state within the last 24 hours.

“Moving forward, the daily report will focus on the number of tests reported to the state by day and the corresponding positivity rate by day. The previously reported cumulative number did not reflect the current status of the pandemic in Florida. This change is in line with the CDC recommendation that calculation of percent positivity [is] applied consistently and with clear communication, will allow public health officials to follow magnitude and trends effectively, and the trends will be useful for local public health decision making,” the DOH said in a statement.

The DOH has reported daily positivity rates and testing numbers along with the overall total since the pandemic arrived but now it will only include the daily numbers for the past 14 days.

“Testing data is still being released for the past 14 days,” a spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management said when asked for clarification about the changes. “The only change is that cumulative testing data will no longer be displayed (cumulative data is data that is combined daily since March).”

On Tuesday, the state reported results from 68,332 people tested for the virus, nearly 4,300 of those who tested positive.

The percent of positive results ranged from 4.52% to 5.11% during the past seven days and was 6.31% for tests reported Tuesday.

According to Monday’s report, nearly 6 million people have been tested in Florida for the virus but now those overall numbers have disappeared from the state dashboard, including the overall the positivity rate around 13%.

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