TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The state of Florida is dropping a national lab company from its coronavirus testing after it failed to lawfully report tens of thousands of test results in a timely manner — with some data dating back to April.

What You Need To Know

  • State: Quest tried to report nearly 75,000 tests Monday night

  • Quest Diagnostics said reporting delay due to "technical issues"

  • Most of the results were from 2 weeks back or farther, state says

Quest Diagnostics tried to upload almost 75,000 tests Monday night, according to a joint announcement by several state agencies Tuesday.

Most of the data was more than two weeks old, with some as old as five months. That prompted Gov. Ron DeSantis to order an end to ties to Quest.

"To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible," DeSantis said in a news release. "I believe that Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida that the people can be confident in. As such I am directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately." 

Quest attributed the large one-time entry to technical issues.

"Due to a technical issue, our reporting of a subset of public health COVID-19 test data to the Florida Department of Health was delayed," Quest said in a statement. "This subset involves nearly 75,000 of the approximately 1.4 million COVID-19 tests we had performed and reported to the state."

The Florida Department of Health's coronavirus case numbers, released later Tuesday than usual, included two columns: “Without Quest” and “With Quest.”

The state positivity rate "without Quest" is 5.9%, according to the Health Department, and 6.8% "with Quest." The total new cases "without Quest" was 3,773 Tuesday, with a number more than double that "with Quest."

Dr. Sajid Chaudhary, an infectious disease specialist, told Spectrum News that those test results could have changed patient care and procedures.

"It may not make any difference at this time now, but it would have made a difference at that time to make the extra arrangements for the patients who were coming to the hospital and to take care of those sick people," Chaudhary said.

Quest told the state that all people who tested positive have been notified.

"We apologize for this matter and regret the challenge it poses for public health authorities in Florida. The issue has since been resolved. Importantly, the issue did not affect or delay the reporting of test results to providers and patients," Quest said in a statement to Spectrum News.