Your use of $sth->rows() is buggy, and might be confusing the issue. From the DBI docs:
For SELECT statements, it is generally not possible to know how many rows will be returned except by fetching them all. Some drivers will return the number of rows the application has fetched so far, but others may return -1 until all rows have been fetched. So use of the rows method or $DBI::rows with SELECT statements is not recommended.
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