Bridgeville woman alarmed after receiving incorrect COVID results for husband, daughter

BRIDGEVILLE — Katey Evans is speaking out about COVID-19 testing after her husband and daughter were mistakenly labeled negative by Delaware’s Division of Public Health when their results were positive.

On Thursday, the day after Ms. Evans’ husband, Kevin, was admitted to Beebe Healthcare in Lewes, the Division of Public Health acknowledged that 12 people inadvertently were informed they were COVID negative when their tests were actually positive.

Ms. Evans’ husband has since returned home from the hospital. Their daughter has been symptom free, Ms. Evans, of Bridgeville, said in a Friday Facebook posting.

The incorrect labeling stemmed from an internal entry error from nearly 2,800 samples collected from drive-thru testing sites at three Walgreens locations partnering with the Division of Public Health in a pilot testing program that began on July 16, according to DPH spokeswoman Jennifer Brestel.

“Of the 2,791 samples collected from the three Walgreens testing sites for processing through the Delaware Public Health Lab in the first week of testing, 12 people who tested positive were inadvertently given negative results due to an internal data entry error,” said Ms. Brestel.

The inadvertent negative results provided by phone were due “to an internal DPH system error,” according to DPH.

“However, all correct lab reports were reported into our surveillance system and appropriately included in statewide testing numbers and the contact tracing system,” Ms. Brestel said.

“I can’t tell you what emotional torment that puts on me as a caring community member,” said Ms. Evans last week. “This isn’t just my family.”

According to DPH, all reported results from the Walgreens testing sites were re-reviewed to ensure accuracy.

“The Division of Public Health wants to assure the public that this was not an error that occurred on site at the Walgreens testing sites. All individuals involved have already been contacted by DPH, and we apologized for the uncertainty the error has caused,” said Ms. Brestel. “The issue was identified as soon as possible, and internal system improvements were put in place to remove the possibility of this recurring. DPH also re-reviewed every result for these testing sites to ensure accuracy.”

“No patients who tested negative were given incorrect results. Additionally, DPH continues to work with its vendor to establish automated results delivery,” said Ms. Brestel.

Contacted by Ms. Evans on Thursday, State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn reached out to the leadership at Delaware Public Health.

“We found that there was some type of issue with, not necessarily with the test results, but how they were being communicated to the individuals that were tested,” said Sen. Pettyjohn, adding that only a fraction of the results were mislabeled.

“It is not 2,700. They went through and manually audited each one of those tests to make sure that the results were communicated correctly to the individuals. They found 12 people that were incorrectly communicated, and they made contact with all 12 of those.”

On July 17, Ms. Evans, her husband and three daughters got tested at the Bridgeville Walgreens pharmacy after their 6-year-old daughter had tested positive earlier that week.

Ms. Evans said she called Delaware Public Health July 21 “to see if my family’s test results were in. At which time, I was informed that everyone in my household was negative for COVID-19.”

In the early hours of Thursday, July 23, Ms. Evans said her husband fell very ill, vomiting, shaking, chills, dizziness … “to the point he was almost in and out on consciousness. I called an ambulance because he was very dehydrated and fading fast.”

As Ms. Evans rode behind ambulance, she was thinking her husband “was just having symptoms from two tick bites that were embedded in him the week prior and for which he was receiving treatment.”

“I was informed at the hospital that they were treating him as a COVID-positive patient, until they could confirm his negative results with DPH,” said Ms. Evans. “I got a phone call from inside the hospital saying they got his results from the test on Friday, July 17 and they were positive, which conflicted with what I was I told three days prior.”

Later July 23, she received word from DPH there had been another mistake with her family’s results and that one of her daughters was also positive. Ms. Evans said she was told by DPH the results got put into a default negative batch.

“Will we ever know the truth? Say it really was 12. Two of those were in my household. Were the other 10 out there living their best life, thinking they were COVID 19 negative and intentionally spreading the virus around?” said Ms. Evans in her social media posting.

“I am thankful for the support our community has given in our honesty about what we’ve been through … because it has been pure hell,” said Ms. Evans.

“I’m not here to dive into the politics of it. I’m here to tell you the truth. We live in a small town and word spreads like wildfire. I had a choice to tell the truth or conceal what I knew about the compromised results. I was raised to tell the truth. I was raised to look out for neighbors and treat them like family. I had to do what is right. You all have a right to know the truth.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.