Florida drops Quest Diagnostics over failure to report nearly 75,000 COVID results dating back to April

This state COVID-19 test site at Florida A&M University's Bragg Stadium in Tallahassee processes 500 tests a day. Credit: Nallah Brown, FAMU Department of Communications

Top Florida officials in a press release Tuesday said that the state is severing ties with Quest Diagnostics after the nationwide company failed to provide nearly 75,000 COVID-19 test results dating back to April.

People tested positive were notified of their results, the release said, adding that though significant, an “unacceptable dump of test results is a data issue and does not impact the health of individuals or the spread of COVID-19 in Florida.”

During a news conference in Clay County, DeSantis said Quest failed to deliver the results to the state for a matter of months.

“That’s not acceptable. They were required to do this in a timely way,” he said.

“These labs know that their results are being used by people to determine the course of certain [state] policies. Someone will say the positive rate has gone up. Maybe we can’t go to in-person schooling,” he said.

Quest Diagnostics issued an apology on its website at midday, describing the problem as “a technical issue” that caused a delay in reporting a subset of its data on COVID to Florida officials.

“Quest Diagnostics takes seriously our responsibility to report laboratory data to public health authorities in a timely manner to aid pandemic response. 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. This subset involves nearly 75,000 of the approximately 1.4 million COVID-19 tests we had performed and reported to the state,” the statement says. It insists there was no delay in reporting tests results to patients.

The statement said Quest recognizes the challenge the delayed data poses for public health authorities, that it has resolved the problem, and that it wants to continue to work with Florida agencies.

Payments to Quest Diagnostics for COVID-19 testing since June 30 include $1.74 million and $500,000, both for “bacteriological laboratory services,” according to the website for the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System.

Update: This story has been changed to include Gov. DeSantis’ comments during a news conference. Deputy Editor Michael Moline contributed to this report.