Florida Governor's Detail On Infection-Rate Rise Questioned

The governor said an airport experienced a 52-percent positivity rate after 500 employees were tested in the last week. In fact, the rate was 0.4 percent.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Faced with undeniable and accelerating increases in the share of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, Gov., Ron DeSantis this week tried to explain the surge with charts and numbers.

But, there were problems with both.

One chart he referenced in his news conference Tuesday claimed 52 percent of 500 Orlando International Airport (OIA) employees tested positive in the last week.

But the airport Wednesday said the governor was mistaken.

In a statement, OIA said only two of the 500 employees tested in the last week were positive - a minuscule 0.4 percent positivity rate.

The 260 positive cases the governor apparently was referring to date to mid-March. Half were employees, and half were people with whom they had contact.

Another chart, showing the percentage of tests that come back positive each week, used an outdated figure of 4.9 percent. That appears to be an average of seven days of rates for new infections, ending last Saturday.

But, the rates of infection for all tests have been increasing since then, soaring to 12.5 percent yesterday.

The overall positive rate over the last seven days is 7.9 percent, a 55-percent increase from the previous week's totals.

New case rates, in a similar week-over-week comparison, increased by an even greater 75 percent.

A call and email to the governor's communications director seeking comment on his statements and methodology have not been answered.

DeSantis blamed much of the positivity rate increase on what he said were more testing of migrant farm workers, jail inmates and staff, and employees returning to their workplaces.

He gave examples that - not including the false data he reported from OIA - totaled a few hundred cases. Removing those cases would barely make a dent in the positive case totals of more than 18,000 in the last week.

Contact Us