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Among the more than 25,000 Floridians whose test results weren't returned or were deemed unreliable due to problems in a Texas-based lab are 1,017 residents of Flagler County, Department to Health-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder said during the the city of Palm Coast's Virtual Town Hall event May 20.
"It was eight working days of folks whose lab specimens were sent to the lab in question in Texas," Snyder said. "... Results were not coming through either electronically to the Department of Health in Tallahassee or to patients themselves. That generated a lot of phone calls by patients and us wondering, Where are the test results?"
The tests were provided April 28 to May 8 by AdventHealth, which had shipped the samples to a third-party Texas lab for evaluation, Snyder said. AdventHealth, he said, is preparing letters offering complementary tests to people affected who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The samples were taken in Flagler County, Volusia County and Lake County, and AdventHealth has ended its contract with the lab, according to an AdventHealth news release.
"Teams across our organization are working around-the-clock to remedy the situation," AdventHealth Central Florida Division President and CEO Daryl Tol said in the news release. "We will continue to lead, innovate and care for those impacted by COVID-19. We remain committed to our purpose of providing whole-person and whole-community health."
The affected samples fell into two broad categories, according to the news release: Ones that are processed and returned a result, but the result was deemed unreliable, and ones that were backlogged and will not be tested.
State Rep. Paul Renner was concerned about the faulty tests.
“It goes without saying that you want every test for any virus to be accurate,” Renner said in an interview. “To the extent it’s not, it creates problems in terms of decision making, and certainly for those who are diagnosed incorrectly, either false positive or false negative.”
Still, Renner acknowledged that this is a new virus, so some trial and error is to be expected — for now.
“Over time, my clear expectation would be that these tests would be accurate in all cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said, tests are still being offered at the Daytona State College campus by appointment through the Florida Department of Health, and the county has confidence in the the labs that are processing those samples.
Criteria for testing have loosened, and people do not have to have symptoms or have had verified contact with a positive case to be tested at the DSC site, Snyder said. To make an appointment, call 386-313-4200.
— Brian McMillan contributed to this story.