Taking a closer look at COVID-19 reported numbers in Bay County

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:43 PM CDT
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Newly reported numbers, or a lack thereof, has one local doctor questioning the accuracy of coronavirus data in Bay County.

“I can’t pay attention to the positivity rate, as important as it is, you can’t follow it until it normalizes,” community physician Dr. Jon Ward said.

Bay County health officials reported a 6.5% positivity testing rate Monday, which compared to the past two weeks is significantly better.

When you take a closer look, Monday also marks the highest number of new COVID-19 cases at 121. Sunday saw 87 and Saturday saw 66. Those respective positivity rates are 22.5% and 14.5%. The key difference is the number of negative test results reported Monday, which shot up to more than 1,700.

“You really don’t have an accurate positivity rate because they didn’t have the negatives in from before,” Dr. Ward said.

Dr. Ward believes the health department’s numbers are skewed because they aren’t necessarily collecting every labs’ negative testing results.

NewsChannel 7 reported last week labs like PanCare were not reporting negative cases.

According to the state’s reports Monday, PanCare is still not reporting negative testing results.

Bay County health officials said they are working with PanCare to receive that data.

PanCare officials did not respond to our request for comment.

So where did these hundreds of new results come from?

Dr. Ward said he doesn’t believe they are necessarily just from one day’s results.

“I do believe they’re actually going back and reporting the old negatives too,” Dr. Ward said.

Bay County health officials said in a statement, “At times some labs may return many results in bulk within a 24 hour period.”

Another number Dr. Ward is questioning is the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Bay County. Health officials reported 52 Monday, but on the Agency for Health Care Administration’s website, it reads 58.

“So there does look like there is a discrepancy there,” Dr. Ward said.

Even if there is a difference in reported numbers, Dr. Ward said the situation is still worrisome.

“If that data is accurate, and that’s what I always say... that would indicate that we’re getting to where 20% of the patients may have COVID. And that’s a tough situation for the hospitals to handle,” Dr. Ward said.

When it comes to reporting recovered cases, Bay County health officials said in a statement:

“The state is developing new efforts daily as we respond to COVID-19 to keep Floridians and visitors safe and informed about the status of the virus. Currently, there are multiple ways for recovered cases to be recorded and several methods are used by different countries and states. Some states and countries measure a case as recovered when a person has had COVID-19 for more than 14 days, while others upon hospital discharge data – neither of which completely capture recovery of the full COVID positive population. The Florida Department of Health will continue to provide information on hospitalizations and deaths to keep the public informed about the threat of the virus.”

They also said:

“The Agency for Health Care Administration added an additional tab to the Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard to reflect hospitalizations with the primary diagnosis of COVID-19. This information is entered daily by each hospital and reflects all persons hospitalized at their facilities regardless of the County or State they reside in.”

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