Tuesday, October 13, 2020
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The Villages

Failure to report COVID-19 results blamed on issue with outside lab

On the third straight day of more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 being reported across the country, the Florida Department of Health failed to update its Coronavirus website because of an issue with a lab that provides test results.

The website, which usually can be accessed at www.floridahealth.gov, continued to report day-old numbers well into late Saturday afternoon. The issue was blamed on the department receiving about 400,000 previously reported COVID-19 results from Helix Laboratory – a private lab that is not affiliated with the state of Florida.

“The massive size of the data file and the need to de-duplicate hundreds of thousands of results prevented the Department of Health’s automatic reporting system from processing yesterday’s results as it normally does,” a late afternoon press release from the Florida Department of Health said. “State epidemiologists are currently working to reconcile the data, which will take a day to finish.”

The release pointed out that the reporting issue isn’t related to notifying people of their results, as that is handled by the lab or entity that offered the test.

The failure to update the webpage that many Floridians and their families count on for daily COVID-19 updates comes as the state is in the midst of an uptick in positive results. On Friday, Florida reported 728,921 cases – an increase of 2,908 in a 24-hour period. The day before, the state reported 3,306 new positive results, which was the largest single-day increase since Sept. 19.

Locally speaking, on Friday The Villages surpassed 700 cumulative cases of COVID-19, with the vast majority – 661 – being in the Sumter County portion of the mega-retirement community. Another 38 cases were reported in the Lake County section of the community and five have been identified in the Marion County portion of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

For Villagers and area residents, this marks the second COVID-19 website that has failed to report local numbers. Earlier this week, The Villages Charter School stopped reporting its new cases to the Sumter County School District and apparently elected instead to just report them through The Villages Developer-owned Daily Sun newspaper. That decision apparently came as the school was facing an outbreak among eight students and three staff members.

The new cases also forced 80 students to quarantine and since several of the positive results were identified among Villages High School football players, this past Friday’s game against Leesburg High School was canceled, as was next Friday’s game against South Sumter High School.

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