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Bay County COVID-19 positivity rate concerns

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 7:59 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -

As of Wednesday, Bay County’s positivity rate for new COVID-19 cases was 21.9%, but one area physician questions that number.

“We’ve got what’s called a denominator problem - the denominator is the number of negative cases, or negative tests, or total tests, and the numerator is positive tests,” said Dr. Jon Ward.

He noticed this when analyzing the number of positive and negative cases reported by local testing sites.

“I looked at it and it [PanCare] showed 280 positives and zero negatives, and that just came up really fishy because I knew a lot of people who had gone to PanCare and tested negative,” said Ward.

This Florida Department of Health chart shows reported positive and negative cases at testing sites. Data through Jul 8, 2020 verified as of Jul 9, 2020 at 09:25 a.m. shows PanCare does not list any negative cases, instead showing 305 positive cases- a 100% positive.
This Florida Department of Health chart shows reported positive and negative cases at testing sites. Data through Jul 8, 2020 verified as of Jul 9, 2020 at 09:25 a.m. shows PanCare does not list any negative cases, instead showing 305 positive cases- a 100% positive.(Florida Department of Health)

According to the Department of Health, PanCare isn’t the only site not reporting negative cases. Places like Lab24 Inc and Lee Memorial Hospital Lab also did not present the number of negative cases.

Ward believes that missing number would lower the positivity rate.

Data through Jul 8, 2020 verified as of Jul 9, 2020 at 09:25 a.m. shows Bay County's positivity rate was 21.9% according to the Florida Department of Health.
Data through Jul 8, 2020 verified as of Jul 9, 2020 at 09:25 a.m. shows Bay County's positivity rate was 21.9% according to the Florida Department of Health.(Florida Department of Health)

The Bay County Department of Health sent us a statement reading: “The Florida Department of Health continues to work to be as transparent as possible. We are working with PanCare to get the negative antigen data for reporting purposes as quickly as possible.”

“Let me just say this, they’re [PanCare] doing the community a huge service. We need people offering testing. We really need the data, we need it all,” said Ward.

Still, he advises the public to be responsible.

“If you are 65 or older and you’ve got a co-morbidity try to isolate yourself the best that you can, and for those of you who can’t, I do think wearing a mask when you can’t socially distance is something that is a good idea,” said Ward. “I also would like to say hand washing- I cannot say it enough- wash your hands.”

We reached out to PanCare but have not received a comment from them. We have made public records requests for those negative numbers and will publish hat information when we receive it.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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