As testing for the novel coronavirus increases along the Treasure Coast, it's not been easy for the public to find out how many people have been tested in their county.
Florida Department of Health statistics on its website are separate from, much lower than, and lagging behind the numbers released by the region's private hospitals.
Updating the website twice daily, the Florida Department of Health highlights the number of "persons under investigation," or PUIs, who meet laboratory testing criteria based on symptoms and exposure.
But as data continues to emerge that is not reflective of current private hospital testing numbers, finding the most up-to-date information can be daunting and confusing.
State health officials said they are working quickly to update their database.
Alberto Moscoso, communications director for Florida's Department of Health, said the department is working as fast as possible to input data into their public system, including the surveillance dashboard.
"We are reporting that data as soon as we receive it from our primary partners," Moscoso said. "The data we're reporting includes both public and private labs."
He said all information that comes from private labs must first be verified by the state health department.
"We're working as quickly as possible," Moscoso said.
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When asked about the discrepancy between county-by-county private testing numbers — some in the hundreds — and the much lower, sometimes single-digit testing numbers displayed on the Health Department's website, Moscoso reiterated health department officials are working as fast as possible.
He did not provide a reason for the vastly different numbers.
In a statement from Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital provided to TCPalm Friday afternoon, the facility said the numbers on the state health department's dashboard are only reflective of tests administered by the Department of Health.
"The total number of tests collected at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital includes those that were sent to commercial laboratories," the statement read. "As such, the numbers will be different."
Cleveland Clinic hospitals in all three Treasure Coast counties have opened drive-thru clinics for testing, where health-care workers take swabs from people, who are told the testing takes four to seven days for results. The testing is by appointment only, and people must first be screened.
Stacy Brock, the Indian River County Health Department spokeswoman, echoed Moscoso:
The Department at the state level is working to report both state and private lab numbers on their website, Brock said.
"Doctors could be using Quest (Diagnostics) or LabCorp," Brock said.
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Rachel Carr, external communications specialist for privately owned testing lab Quest Diagnostics, said in a statement provided Friday, the lab is expected to run 280,000 COVID-19 tests per week by April 1.
The lab also aims to increase its testing capacity to more than 20,000 tests each day.
"The roll out of these tests in major cities means patients will have closer access to testing," according to the statement.
No other information was provided from Quest Diagnostics on how results are reported to the Health Department, or how that information becomes publicly available.
There was no indication from state officials, hospital officials or commercial laboratories contacted — all collecting testing data for the coronavirus — if or when that data would be available to the public daily as a total number by county in one easy-to-find location.
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If you think you have coronavirus
- Contact your doctor
- Call the nurse triage line at 772-419-3360 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Residents and visitors can also call their county health department 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with questions about the virus
Numbers by County*
Total tests administered: 350
Total individuals screened: 2,050
Total positive cases: 1
Total tests administered: 15
Tests still pending: 5
Total negative results: 9
Total positive cases: 1
Indian River County
Total tests administered: 45
Tests still pending: 30
Total negative results: not available
Total positive cases: 1
Total tests administered: 22
Tests still pending: 9
Total negative results: 11
Total positive cases: 2
St. Lucie County**
Total tests administered: 9
Tests still pending: 4
Total negative results: 5
Total positive cases: 0
* Statistics as of March 20, 2020
**Cleveland Clinic statistics were not available Friday
Max Chesnes is a TCPalm breaking news reporter for Indian River County. You can keep up with Max on Twitter @MaxChesnes, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and give him a call at 772-978-2224. For more news, follow Max Chesnes on Twitter by clicking here.