Florida Governor’s COVID-19 Update Causes Confusion, Mixing Non-Airport Worker COVID-19 Positive Contact Stats with Orlando International Airport Worker Stats

A recent press conference by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was misunderstood when the number of running tally of positive test results of several months was connected to a recent number of tests performed. Two tests came back positive among a recent 500 tests, not 260.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Teusday June 16, 2020 that 500 workers at a local airport were recently tested for COVID-19, with 260 coming back positive — a rate of 52%.

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown in a statement said the Florida Department of Health did conduct 500 recent tests at Orlando International Airport over three days last week. However, only two of the tests in that batch came back positive, he said — 0.4%.

“In discussion with Dr. Raul Pino, the Public Health Director for Orange County, it appears that is the extent of the results from those 500 tests. Dr. Pino also advised that he believes the use of masks and facial coverings at MCO and the observance of social distancing is a significant contributor to the low positivity rates.”

— Phil Brown, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO

The 260 figure was a result of a contact tracing effort that linked 128 COVID-19 positive people who don’t work at the airport, to 132 airport workers with confirmed COVID-19 infections during a time period from mid-March through June 6, 2020.

The 132 airport workers included airline and rental car company employees, TSA workers and airport authority staff. According to Phil Brown, there are about 22,000 credentialed workers at the airport, which means only 0.6% of workers have tested positive over more than two months.

In a confusing presentation on Tuesday during a highlight of several outbreaks detected throughout the state of Florida, DeSantis said that “within the past week” 260 people who tested positive, which mistakenly was understood that all 260 infected people were airport employees.

With his clarification, Phil Brown concluded, “We continue to work with all of our health department officials to ensure all is being done to keep the traveling public and our employees safe at Orlando International Airport.”

The Orlando International Airport report was trending on Twitter Wednesday morning with many people initially falsely sharing the scary 52% rate.

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