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Lee Health/NCH Say Reports of 100% COVID-19 Positivity Rates are Wrong

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yuri.samoilov.online via Flickr Creative Commons

A recent Florida Department of Health report shows many labs in the state reporting 100% positivity rates for COVID-19 tests, meaning that every test they report is positive for the virus or that they’re simply not reporting negative test results, but NCH Healthcare System and Lee Health officials say that’s not the case.

The positivity rate of coronavirus tests conducted by Lee Health, Tuesday, stands at 28.1% and the positivity rate for COVID-19 tests conducted through NCH stands at 14%. Health officials reported those numbers during Wednesday’s media briefing for the first time, in response to public concerns over allegedly erroneous positivity rates from various laboratories throughout the state.

“I want to assure you we have been accurately reporting both positive and negative results to the state and continue to do this on a daily basis,” said Lee Health Chief Operating Officer Dr. Scott Nygaard.

“We are currently working with the Florida Department of Health to resolve this discrepancy.”

Dr. Nygaard said the healthcare system’s positivity rate is likely higher than what other labs are seeing because hospitals, unlike other types of testing centers, are actively treating COVID-19 patients.

Nygaard said Lee Health’s acute care hospitals are currently treating 300 COVID-19 patients after discharging 38 patients the day before and admitting another 32 new coronavirus patients. 91% of Lee Health’s current ICU bed capacity is full and 41% of their ventilators are in use.

Meanwhile, NCH CEO Paul Hiltz reports that 90% of adult hospital bed capacity is full and that 75% of critical care beds are full as well. NCH is currently treating 144 patients who’ve tested positive for the virus. Of NCH’s 153 ventilators, Hiltz said just 14 are currently in use, including ten COVID-19 patients on a vent.

On Tuesday, NCH spokeswoman Amanda Lucey said the healthcare system has seen a 115% increase in hospitalizations in the past two weeks and that if current trends continue, NCH hospitals will reach capacity in four weeks. Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci said Tuesday, that without expanded bed capacity and staff, Lee Health will hit capacity by August 1, which is why both healthcare systems are taking steps to hire new staff or bring back seasonal staff earlier than normal.