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Florida Issues Delayed COVID-19 Daily Report While Questioning Death Figures

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 statistics issued Wednesday. As of 7:30 p.m., the state had still not updated its data dashboard.
Florida Department of Health
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Florida Department of Health issued its daily coronavirus data report Wednesday evening — well after the regular 11 a.m. update, as officials said that information about COVID-19 deaths needs a "more rigorous review."

State figures show 2,145 people tested positive for the coronavirus since Tuesday, bringing the statewide total infections to 762,534.

There were 423 new positive tests in the greater Tampa Bay region.

The state received 34,718 tests Tuesday and 6.74% of them were positive.

It's the second straight day the rate of people testing positive for the first time was above 6%, and the highest single-day positivity rate since August 25.

The positivity rate was above 6.74% twice during that time period, but those results were caused by abnormally large entries of data.

The Florida Department of Health said Wednesday that fatality data reported to the state "consistently presents confusion and warrants a more rigorous review."

Of the 95 fatalities reported to the state Tuesday, 16 had more than a two-month separation between the time the individuals tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away, and 11 of the deaths occurred more than a month ago.

"During a pandemic, the public must be able to rely on accurate public health data to make informed decisions. To ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related deaths, the Department will be performing additional reviews of all deaths," Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said in a press release. "Timely and accurate data remains a top priority of the Department of Health.”

Wednesday's report also recorded the deaths of 105 people due to complications from COVID-19 since Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 16,413. In the greater Tampa Bay area there were 23 deaths, including 12 in Sarasota County.

The deaths were recorded by the state since Tuesday’s report, but they may have occurred days or weeks earlier.

ABOUT THE DATA: The Florida Department of Health produces a daily update around 11 a.m. with information about COVID-19 cases and deaths that were reported over the previous 24 hours. Cases and deaths in the report may have happened days or weeks earlier, according to state officials. The state separately tracks cases and deaths that occurred on specific days on its dashboard and those totals are frequently updated.

Greater Tampa Bay region positive case and death totals as of Wednesday, October 21:

  • Hillsborough: 45,948 /755
  • Pinellas: 24,422 /805
  • Polk: 22,061 /593
  • Manatee: 12,674 /323
  • Pasco: 10,316 /227
  • Sarasota: 9,156 /326
  • Hernando: 3,493 /162

Florida COVID-19 daily total of positive tests/deaths for the last two weeks:

  • Oct. 21: 2,145/105
  • Oct. 20: 3,662/86
  • Oct. 19: 1,707/54
  • Oct. 18: 2,539/50
  • Oct. 17: 4,044/88
  • Oct. 16: 3,449/98
  • Oct. 15: 3,356/144
  • Oct. 14: 2,883/66
  • Oct. 13: 2,725/123
  • Oct. 12: 1,533/47
  • Oct. 11: 5,570/180
  • Oct. 10: No report issued from DOH *
  • Oct. 9: 2,908/118
  • Oct. 8: 3,306/170

* - On Oct. 10, a data dump of previously reported lab results prevented the reporting system from normal processing of lab results.

Additional information for this report came from the Associated Press.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Lisa Peakes is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on WUSF 89.7.
Mark Schreiner has been the producer and reporter for "University Beat" on WUSF 89.7 FM since 2001 and on WUSF TV from 2007-2017.