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Florida coronavirus data ‘severely’ skewed by a Miami-Dade lab hoarding results

Niznik Lab Corp in Miami Gardens reported seven weeks worth of COVID-19 test results to Florida's health department at once, causing what looked like a sudden spike in cases, particularly in Miami-Dade County.
Niznik Lab Corp in Miami Gardens reported seven weeks worth of COVID-19 test results to Florida's health department at once, causing what looked like a sudden spike in cases, particularly in Miami-Dade County.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The coronavirus data released Wednesday by Florida’s health department contained some shocking numbers: A record 4,141 new cases of COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County, representing more than half of the state’s one-day increase of 8,109.

But it turns out those numbers aren’t indicative of a worrisome trend. They’re the result of a single lab in Miami Gardens that dumped over 4,000 positive results to the state at once that covered seven weeks worth of testing.

“Today, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) received a backlog of testing data from Niznik Lab Corp in Miami, dating back to June 23rd,” the health department wrote in a tweet. “The lab reported over 4,000 cases occurring over the past 7 weeks, but which had not been reported to DOH until today.

“Therefore, this backlog severely skews today’s daily report for Miami-Dade & is not reflective of current trends. Once DOH was informed of this testing data backlog, we immediately reached out to Niznik Lab & we are investigating the matter, along with Miami-Dade leadership.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that of those 4,104 positive cases just reported by Niznik, 2,941 were cases in Miami‐Dade, leading to what at first had looked like a significant spike of infection.

Patients have gotten their results since June 23, but the state’s health department didn’t, and so couldn’t include them in the daily reporting.

The state and county are each doing their own investigations into what went wrong.

Niznik Lab Corp’s website promotes “Fast & Affordable COVID-19 Testing for Businesses.”

For its customer, the state of Florida, not so much, apparently. The lab released a statement on Thursday.

“We initially experienced technical issues with data integration, we worked closely with State officials to correct our processes,” a lab spokesperson wrote. “As of last night, this has been remedied and data will now be reported daily.”

CEO Robert Niznik is an addiction recovery specialist, but his labs are now testing for COVID-19 for Florida.

Monday's coronavirus report from Florida's department of health included a dump of over 4,000 positive cases from a Miami-Dade lab that had collected those results over the span of 7 weeks.
Monday's coronavirus report from Florida's department of health included a dump of over 4,000 positive cases from a Miami-Dade lab that had collected those results over the span of 7 weeks.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.