Newly Obtained Data Shows 2,000 Tested For COVID-19 In Escambia County; Health Dept. Director Says There Is No ‘Community Spread’

March 26, 2020

UPDATE – New data obtained by Thursday morning shows that close to 2,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 at  hospitals and drive-thru testing sites in Escambia County

The report shows that 1,968 individuals have taken the test. Of those, 163 tests were done at hospitals and 1,805 were done at drive-thru testing. The report indicates that the information includes data from Community Health of Northwest Florida, West Florida Hospital, Baptist Hospital and Ascension Sacred Heart.

The data does not include any information about the number of positives or negatives or how many of the nearly 2,000 people are still waiting for results to come back from a lab.


One thousand or more COVID-19 tests have been done in Escambia County, but exactly how many remains unclear.

Dr. John Lanza, director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, said early Wednesday morning that “1,000 or so” tests have been done by the hospitals in the county. The samples have either gone to private labs or now Sacred Heart has in-hospital capabilities to run 50 or more tests per day.

The state’s official data dashboard, as of Wednesday night, shows only 237  total tests in Escambia County. Lanza said those tests are the ones that have been processed by the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories in Florida and don’t necessarily reflect the hospital tests. The data shows 217 of those tests were negative, and three are still pending.

Wednesday night the state was reporting 17 total confirmed positive tests in Escambia County. The health department says the increasing number is due to the increased number of tests processed.

“The most testing you do, the more chance you are going to find positives,” Lanza said. He said the positive rate in Escambia County is about 1%, compared to 9-10% on average for the state and country.

“That also indicates the lack of community spread here because we are only getting 1% positives,” he said, adding that New York state is at 25%.

Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown, according to the CDC.

As for testing protocol — who gets a test and who does not — Lanza explained it comes down to screening questions. Those questions, according to a FDOH Escambia news release, include:

  • Are you experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
  • Have you returned from travel to an affected area, or been on a cruise within the last 14 days?
  • Have you been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19? Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

When asked how someone would expect to know if they have come in contact with a diagnosed COVID-19 case, Lanza said it’s not likely that has occurred.

“Since there is not a declared clear community spread, the the chances are you have not come in contact with someone with COVID. If there is community spread, then that would be a different answer and the criteria might change at that point,” Lanza said.


22 Responses to “Newly Obtained Data Shows 2,000 Tested For COVID-19 In Escambia County; Health Dept. Director Says There Is No ‘Community Spread’”

  1. Esc Co Resident on March 27th, 2020 10:05 pm

    I know someone that was tested on March 17th at Ascension Health drive thru and are still waiting for results. They are being put off with excuses about getting the test results. I don’t see how Esc County can say there is not community spread when all of the test results are not back yet. Why are these tests taking so long to get the results back? There needs to be quicker results.

  2. Donald on March 27th, 2020 6:12 pm

    Because there has been no surveillance testing, we are walking around blind. And that is why our numbers nationally are on a path to double every two and half days. Monday we could be at 200,000 cases. But we will not know til widespread testing begins.

  3. LPS on March 27th, 2020 2:37 pm

    I believe the true error and negligence would be the fact the majority of people who got tested through the drive thru test ( Ascension Sacred Heart) have not heard back their results. My family member was tested on March 18th and still has not heard anything except there has been a delay. How is there supposed to be accurate data and a way to help contain the spread if the results are lagging over a week.

  4. community on March 26th, 2020 9:44 pm

    There is no way that it can be determine at this point that there isn’t a community outbreak when the results from all the tests done are not available yet. There isn’t enough data to decide whether is safe or not. Also ,the only patients being tested are symptomatic people but records show that some young generation may not experience symptoms and still be positive for the virus and a potential risk for older generation.

  5. Aaron on March 26th, 2020 6:13 pm

    We sure have a lot of people in official positions doing a whole heck of a lot of handwaving and mental gymnastics here. Nearly all types of coronavirus, including SARS-CoV-2 spread shortly after infection with no symptoms present. About 30% of people never get symptoms and spread the virus strongly for about 2 days, then weakly for another 5-7 days. The symptoms can take up to 10 days to show up after infection, so only testing people with symptoms is a terrible move. Sure we’re limited on tests but if we have someone test positive, every person that person may have come into contact with should be tested regardless of symptoms. As a planet we need to come together to produce as many tests as possible and get them to all the hospitals as quickly as possible and test as many people as we can. Many countries have effectively tested every person and many a second or even third time as needed based on possible exposure.

    Let’s not get started on how ridiculous it is that you can only be tested if you have been in contact with someone else that has been tested positive. It’s obvious there’s going to be tons of people that will carry and spread it and never get tested. That’s going to mean that the majority of people with the virus are excluded from testing unless they have severe symptoms, that’s a terrible way to do it and it going to miss the majority of cases as it spreads unchecked. If we then open beaches or tell businesses to re-open then it’s going to explode.

    Please look up “The Hammer and the Dance” and give that a read, it tells you everything we know about how to effectively handle this pandemic based on tons of data collected from researchers around the world and methods that have worked in other countries both for this outbreak and with past pandemics.

  6. Susan on March 26th, 2020 4:53 pm

    Could the numbers be lower because people here are complying with the rules…
    If the beaches open and every business out there stays closed that would be great be thing. There’s a lot of space out there. But the businesses will want to open up.

  7. Beulah Gal on March 26th, 2020 4:18 pm

    I understand they’re trying to preserve the tests, but I don’t understand how they can say definitively that we have no community spread in our area.

    (A) Information on the state’s tracking map says 12 of the cases in Escambia County were not travel related and 2 were “travel unknown.” If they know exactly how each of the 19 patients in our area contracted the virus, then they should let us know. We don’t need the patients’ names and addresses, so HIPAA will be safe.

    (B) Anyone who may have contracted the virus through community spread is being turned away for testing. If there is community spread, we will never know it, because they’re deliberately not looking for it.

  8. J DUB on March 26th, 2020 2:39 pm

    I am by no means a math expert but if there are 237 test and 17 come back positive that is not 1% it more like 7% unless I am missing something.

  9. FOOD FOR THOUGHT on March 26th, 2020 2:30 pm

    I don’t see how it’s not “community spread” when it’s a highly communicable virus. (facepalm)

  10. Lynda on March 26th, 2020 1:17 pm

    These results are not anywhere near accurate of what is going on. They are asking only certain groups to go test, not to waste supplies. Four members in my family were sick, starting in February, almost two weeks apart. All went to the Dr, all told the crud, all with almost exactly these symptoms. We were just passed over. Many here not taking it seriously, that is sad.

  11. RDS on March 26th, 2020 10:44 am

    Devan, no they do not test everyone who has the sniffles or every hypochondriac that thinks they have COVID19. They only test people who cross a certain threshold of symptoms therefore warranting a “diagnostic test”. Testing anyone with a fever or a sore throat would be considered “screening tests”, and they don’t do that for COVID19. If they did, we would run out of all testing equipment in a matter of days. So in short, no one is “lying” to the public. The medical professionals are acting in accordance to guidelines set in place by the CDC and are doing a great job.

  12. Granny on March 26th, 2020 9:33 am

    Don’t let me forget the law enforcement officers. They are also out there putting their own health at risk to keep us all safe. Thank you for your unselfish service during this time. We appreciate it.

  13. Lee on March 26th, 2020 9:32 am

    Springbreakers were on the beaches until last weekend. Add locals to that scenario. Thousands of people at restaurants, bars, gas stations, and stores at the beach and surrounding areas. Great that it appears there is “no community spread.” However, we can’t assume none of those visitors were infected or that none of them took the virus home with them (or brought it with them). The incubation period for COVID 19 is 2 to 14 days, and many people may not get sick, but still spread it. We need to remain vigilant and heed warnings of medical experts that we are not out of the woods. Considering what public health officials were saying at the time, I think Gov. Desantis showed a lack of judgement by not closing our beaches sooner.

  14. Granny on March 26th, 2020 9:24 am

    Let me bring to everyone’s attention that yesterday on north escambia there was a story about Bergosh. It was “Coffee with a commission” and it was live streamed from the office of Bergosh. Lanza was there as well. Look it up it’s a story which today is in smaller print in the right column. Apparently they were discussing the possibility of opening the beaches back up. Now this is after a representative from our 3 hospitals plead to close the beaches for safety and health concerns. We have doctors locally and doctors nationwide telling us the pandemic isn’t over. New Orleans is becoming the new epi center. I think it’s 26 states that have put in place stay at home orders. People are sick. People are dying. Look at how the numbers alone the gulf coast have increased in last few days. Yet here we have two of our community leaders trying to convince everyone to open the beaches. It would be Good. Good for who? Definitely not the brave men and women risking their health their lives literally to help the infected. Doctors, nurses, EMS, firefighters and paramedics. So here we are beating the same old drum. Do the right thing county leaders.
    PEOPLE FIRST!!! Leave the beaches closed

  15. David on March 26th, 2020 9:23 am

    @ Donna – That statistic is dealing with % and therefore the amount of testing is not relevant. Think about it; when 100 tests are given in New York and 25 (25%) come back positive while 100 are given in Pensacola but only 1 (1%) comes back positive …… is not “because they have done more test”. Both locations were given the same number of tests.

  16. Steve on March 26th, 2020 8:40 am

    Donna, your tin hat seems to be a little tight.

  17. bewildered on March 26th, 2020 8:04 am

    Its been practically 2 weeks since the social distances and other regulations went into place – if you don’t show symptoms by now why test or worry yourself sick about it? . We survived 3 1/2 years of being told by every news station we are controlled by the Russians. I don’t believe a single thing what any politicians and the executives of our media pound into our heads. Something is going on – but whatever it is – it is not what they are telling us.

  18. Devan on March 26th, 2020 7:45 am

    So basically there’s 17 positive out of 237 what about all the pop up testing sites what are there results the lady at sacred heart ascension said she could test 50 a day wit test results in 60-90 min over a week ago yet no results they do not want us knowing the real number and they are only testing who they want they will not let everyone test

  19. John on March 26th, 2020 6:09 am

    This takes me back to the early days after the deep water horizon disaster when another stable genius made comments in line with we don’t see any oil so everyone please get back into the water.
    It’’s not always about what you can see. It is hard for some to see grey when they live in a black or white frame of mind.

  20. Henry Coe on March 26th, 2020 6:04 am

    That’s encouraging, but, it doesn’t account for any of the new cases that have not developed into symptoms yet for people who have been infected and have not been tested.
    I would hate to see Lanza’s comments cause people in our area to become complacent.

  21. Donna on March 26th, 2020 5:05 am

    Yes we are at 1% and New Yorker at 25 % because they have done more test . I know the doctor doesn’t think we’re falling for that . Hmmm

  22. Citizen on March 26th, 2020 1:46 am

    They will come from New Orleans. They need to set up a cordon sanitairre and block the state borders.

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