For the first time in seven months, Florida officials on Saturday did not release the number of confirmed cases or deaths from COVID-19.
Officials blame an influx of test results Florida received from a private laboratory that is not affiliated with the state, according to a statement from Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The state’s daily update had been released consistently since the onset of the pandemic in Florida. It included case numbers, death totals and hospitalizations for all 67 counties. The daily report will begin again on Sunday, according to Piccolo, and will also include data that was originally supposed to be released Saturday.
Piccolo said that Florida’s Department of Health needs to “de-duplicate” around 400,000 previously-reported COVID-19 test results from Helix Laboratory. The “massive” amount of data from the laboratory prevented Florida’s automatic reporting system from processing data that would be used to produce Saturday’s daily report, he said.
“State epidemiologists are currently working to reconcile the data, which will take a day to finish,” Piccolo said in a statement. “Therefore, the daily report will resume tomorrow.”
The issue is not related to informing people about their test results, Piccolo said, which is handled by the labs or organizations that conduct the tests.
The announcement from Piccolo came more than five hours after the usual time that the state releases its daily report. The Florida Department of Health did not return calls and emails from the Tampa Bay Times asking about Saturday’s data. The department’s social media did not acknowledge Saturday’s delay.
Instead of the latest numbers, Floridians who checked the Department of Health’s dashboard on Saturday saw the state’s numbers from Friday: 728,921 total cases and 15,372 deaths. The weekly death average was about 92 people announced dead per day.
There were 2,908 new cases of the coronavirus and 118 deaths reported Friday. The state had about 2,100 people who were hospitalized at that time, too, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Around 460 of those were in Tampa Bay.
The number of coronavirus cases per day continues to rise in school’s throughout Tampa Bay, with 113 new cases this past week in Hillsborough County K-12 schools alone. There was a similar trend for local universities, too, with the University of South Florida reporting 25 new cases across its campuses this week and 121 new cases for the University of Tampa.
The Tampa Bay region saw 593 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths Friday. Six of the dead were from Hillsborough, four from Pinellas and Citrus and Polk counties each had three deaths.
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