A local news station in Orlando, Florida, discovered some stunning mistakes in COVID-19 numbers being reported to the state by testing laboratories.

Fox affiliate WOFL-TV reported Tuesday that after it “noticed errors in the state’s report on positivity rates, the Florida Department of Health said that some laboratories have not been reporting negative test result data to the state.”

“Countless labs have reported a 100 percent positivity rate, which means every single person tested was positive,” the station reported.

That prompted WOFL to investigate. The station said it contacted every local testing location in the state’s report.

It found the errors being reported were not minor mathematical miscalculations.

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“The report showed that Orlando Health had a 98 percent positivity rate,” WOFL reported. “However, when FOX 35 News contacted the hospital, they confirmed errors in the report. Orlando Health’s positivity rate is only 9.4 percent, not 98 percent as in the report.”

Ninety-eight percent reported positive versus 9.4 percent actually positive? That is a 1,042 percent over-report.

“The report also showed that the Orlando Veteran’s Medical Center had a positivity rate of 76 percent,” the station said. “A spokesperson for the VA told FOX 35 News on Tuesday that this does not reflect their numbers and that the positivity rate for the center is actually 6 percent.”

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Florida lawmakers expressed frustration with the bad data from the Florida Department of Health.

“I’m blown away. It’s out of control,” Republican state Rep. Anthony Sabitini told WOFL.

“It’s incredibly frustrating that we continue to see concerns of data transparency,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat.

And these are not the only massive statistical mishaps coming out of laboratories providing information to Florida. WTSP-TV in St. Petersburg revealed Tuesday that the headlines about the state having 15,000 cases in a single day were based on false reporting.

“Over the weekend, Florida made international headlines when it reported a shocking number of positive COVID-19 test results: More than 15,000 in a single day,” the station reported.

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“But it turns out that report contained numbers gathered over several days by a single laboratory.”

“More than 7,000 of the 15,000 positive cases reported have been traced to GENETWORx in Richmond, Virginia. The company, which is Florida’s fourth-largest processor of tests, said in a statement it looks like the Florida Department of Health reported in a single day, lab results that had been collected over the course of four to five days.”

Who can Americans trust anymore for accurate numbers? And what does this say about government-run health departments that put out the information?

Imagine 100 percent of people receiving positive biopsy results when only 10 percent were actually positive.

The investigative work of local media again shows how hard it is to get an accurate picture of what is happening out there from the national headlines.

National media delight in talking about cases exploding in Florida, whose governor, Ron DeSantis, is a Republican who supports President Donald Trump — but stories like these out of Tampa Bay and Orlando indicate the explosion is radically overblown.

And in the midst of all of this, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s best estimate of the fatality rate of coronavirus was at 0.65 percent as of Friday, which is fantastic news.

There is so much misinformation out there that Americans need to pause before panicking. Take healthy, common-sense precautions to slow the spread, but do not give in to hysterical headlines rushed out without due diligence on the part of establishment media.

Fatality rates, particularly in states such as Florida, are looking far better than what doomsaying prognosticators warned in the early months of this pandemic.

While the number of cases of coronavirus in the U.S. rises along with increased testing, the fatality rate continues to fall.

Every life matters, of course, and vulnerable populations need to be protected.

But as a nation, we must push back against constant media hysteria. And it is wise to always wait for further investigation in cases of inaccurate information being reported to government health entities.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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