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Florida Health Care System: 35,000 Virus Tests 'Unreliable'

The results of more than 35,000 COVID-19 tests ordered by Florida-based health care system and performed by a third-party lab are unreliable, with the majority of the questionable tests having been conducted in Florida, the company said Saturday.

According to AdventHealth, a faith-based health care system, the situation has created "unacceptable delays." In a statement, AdventHealth didn't name the third-party lab. The tests were a mixture of positive and negative results, and some tests that hadn't been yet returned.

"While we work successfully with many other labs across multiple states to provide COVID-19 tests for our communities, we have terminated our contract with this particular lab and share in the disappointment and frustration this situation has created. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and uncertainty it has caused," Terry Shaw, president/CEO of AdventHealth, wrote in the statement.

The company will notify the patients who are impacted with a letter and a phone call.

"Teams across our organization are working around-the-clock to remedy the situation," said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth's Central Florida Division, in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel. "We take our responsibility to safeguard everyone who entrusts us with their care very seriously."

About 25,000 of the unreliable tests were in the central Florida area.

AdventHealth spokeswoman Melanie Lawhorn said the company has 49 hospitals in nine states, but two of those states are joint venture systems and were not affected by the unreliable testing situation.

Just over 630,000 people in Florida have been tested for coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon.

According to state health statistics released Saturday, there have been more than 44,800 confirmed cases in the state, and at least 1,964 deaths. Those numbers were announced as businesses prepare for a "Phase One" reopening on Monday. Since the start of May, parts of the state have allowed some businesses to reopen with limited capacity.

The state will increase restrictions on restaurant and retail store capacity from 25% to 50%, as well as allow the reopening of museums, libraries and gyms at 50% capacity. Bars and movie theaters will remain closed. Also, Miami-Dade and Broward counties will be allowed to begin slowly reopening.

Those two South Florida counties, along with Palm Beach County, have been the hardest hit by coronavirus and have seen about 58% of the state's coronavirus cases.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said anyone in the county that's going back to work on Monday needs to wear a face covering, and businesses must test all staff and hire deep cleaners if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

Also in that county, The Miami Herald reported that one nursing home reported 14 additional COVID-19 deaths in the past week, bringing the total number of resident fatalities at the home to 22. It's the most in South Florida and second most of any long-term care facility in the state, according to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Health.

The newspaper said earlier in the week that the state halted new admissions to the Fair Havens Center Nursing Home in Miami Springs, citing ineffective COVID-19 monitoring and isolation practices that created a "fertile ground for the virus to spread."

Only one Florida nursing home has had more deaths than Fair Havens — Seminole Pavilion in Pinellas County, which has tallied 25, including one staffer.

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Tamara Lush
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.