State Vows To Boost Testing As Some Wait For Results

Florida could see a 75% increase in daily test results, if new contracts produce the results being promised.

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With some businesses and politicians itching to lessen restrictions on physical distancing, testing for the coronavirus will be key to determining if that is appropriate, medical experts say.

Faced with some private labs taking weeks to produce results, Gov. Ron DeSantis this week is promising change, announcing two contracts "with two new labs that will increase our lab capacity by 18,000 samples per day."

Because two samples are usually collected per person, that would mean an increase of about 9,000 results per day, assuming the labs are able to produce results at maximum capacity.

That would be a 75% increase over the approximately 12,000 test results the state has been releasing per day recently.

When you hear Florida has done 298,000 tests, that really means the state is reporting that many results of tests, 10% of which have lately been coming back positive.

It does not reflect how many people, like David LeBlanc, were tested but are still awaiting results.

LeBlanc went to the Medrite testing center in Miami Beach in early April after feeling ill.

"They said it would take four days," he said. But when he called to ask where his results were, "they said they were backed up and expect seven days, so I waited a few more days and I called and they said they were still backed up."

Tuesday, 15 days after he was tested, he said he was told to come in again that day for another test.

Medrite has not returned a call seeking comment on whether what happened to LeBlanc was a bigger problem.

He said he asked what happened to his first test and could not get a definitive answer.

"I have no idea," he said. "I hear the governor and president talking about getting a lot of tests done and they're proud of all these tests being taken, but are people getting their results?"

DeSantis said he was aware of problems with some of the private labs the state is using to process 90% of the tests, so the state signed up those two new labs.

"These testing laboratories will primarily be where we send our samples we collect at long-term care and assisted living facilities and at the community based walk-up sites," DeSantis said.

Like the governor, LeBlanc, a Miami actor, wants progress.

"I’d like for the industries to open up," he said, "but I don’t think it's anytime soon, especially if they’re doing testing and they’re not getting results."

The state has not responded to questions from NBC 6 about how long the backlog is for testing and whether it is getting longer.

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