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OPINION

PanCare statement on COVID testing

Staff Writer
The Star

PanCare of Florida would like to clear up any misconceptions regarding our COVID-19 testing data as it appears that the Florida Department of Health has misdirected their data collection process as an inaccuracy on PanCare’s part.

Since the onset of COVID-19 cases in Florida, PanCare of Florida, Inc., a non-profit organization, has been at the forefront of testing efforts in our nine-county service area. Our efforts have remained true as we have continued to keep the best interest of all people in our communities as our primary focus, we understand that local County Health Department directives come from the State level; however, data inaccuracies are not the fault of PanCare. With every effort we have made to improve and increase testing in our communities, we have been met with resistance and a constant uphill battle from both the State Department of Health and our local County Health Department.

Throughout our COVID-19 testing efforts, we have utilized three methods for testing, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), COVID-19 IgM/IgG Antibody, and Sofia SARS Antigen FIA, all of which at their time of use had FDA-EUA approval.

The State Department of Health advised PanCare that they would not include our results in with the case data reported on Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard in spite of FDA-EUA approval.

On June 8, at a meeting held between PanCare administrators, DOH-Bay administrator, DOHBay Epidemiological APRN, and other county decision-makers, an agreement was made that PanCare would report to DOH-Bay, “all negative antigen tests, the number of negative antigen tests who do not take a PCR test, and the number of negative antigen tests who take a PCR test whose results are inconclusive. DOH will continue to treat positive antigen tests as a positive result, including notification, contact investigation, etc., and research why antigen positives are not considered a positive result instead of a “presumptive” positive.”

PanCare has complied with all terms of this agreement.

In an interview on July 2, with local news outlets, DOH-Bay stated that the reason results for Antigen tests were not updated for the public was because they had to develop a system for reporting, this was not true.

On July 1, the Department of Health released another update on their reporting processes, and we worked with the Florida Department of Health (FL-DOH) to implement a new electronic reporting process that is compatible with their system.

As of July 16, FL-DOH has approved the system integration, and numbers we have previously reported have started being reflected in their data.

We PanCareFL.org will continue to electronically submit our positive and negative test results directly to the Florida Department of Health via this integrated system.

All Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests conducted at our testing sites are sent to a third-party lab for molecular confirmation. We have sent over 6,000 PCR tests to MedComp Sciences, Quest Diagnostics, and Genetworx, all results of these tests have been reported throughout the entire pandemic directly to the State Department of Health from those labs.

To date, PanCare of Florida has spent in excess of $1.5 million on COVID-19 testing throughout our nine-county service area.

In short, yes the COVID-19 data for the State of Florida is skewed, PanCare has conducted over 6,900 antibody tests, and over 16,000 antigen tests that have not been accurately reported by the Florida Department of Health because they refused to accept the results of both of these FDA-EUA approved tests at the time they were administered.

We empathize with other organizations throughout the state that have worked tirelessly to provide testing in their communities that have continued to go through the hurdles that we have experienced. We will continue to report our daily results and look forward to seeing an accurate depiction of the testing efforts made daily by all COVID-19 testing organizations throughout Florida.

Sincerely,

R. Michael Hill

President & CEO PanCare of Florida, Inc.