In what local health officials are calling a mistake, a Lawrenceburg family received an email last Wednesday from the health department saying three of its children had tested positive for COVID-19.
Trouble is, none of the children had been tested.
The incident mirrors a rash of social media posts nationwide that make similar claims of untested people being told they have tested positive for COVID-19, and comes at a time when state health officials are warning about increased numbers of positive tests in children.
“You hear conspiracy theories about the numbers being trumped up,” said the mother of the three children who, along with their husband, opted to speak on the condition of anonymity.
“The governor’s out there scaring people to death by saying the numbers are spiking in children under 16,” said the father, who tested positive last Monday but said he now feels fine.
Both said they were gratified to learn that the emailed letter – a copy of which was provided to The Anderson News – was sent in error.
Tim Wright, Anderson County’s director of public health, said Monday that the children were not counted among the county’s positive tests, which have swelled in recent weeks. He said the department uses several templates it fills out to stay in contact with those who test positive for the virus, and the wrong one was sent to the family.
“It was an honest mistake and has been corrected,” said Wright. “We’ll do our best to not let that happen again.
“They were not counted for reporting purposes. The only ones counted are the actual copies of a positive test from a doctor’s office.
“What they received was an in-house letter that does not go to the state.”
The father said he started feeling ill after he went to work last Monday morning only to be told a coworker who works nearby was also not feeling well.
“We worked in close proximity to each other Friday, and when he didn’t show up for work, I said I’ll go home, follow up with my doctor and see what they think.”
The father said he set up a telehealth appointment with his doctor, who advised him to get tested. He received the positive results of his test last Tuesday, and knew what was coming next.
“On Tuesday afternoon, the health department called and said I was going into quarantine,” he said. “They wanted to know where I’d been Saturday and Sunday all that stuff.
“From there I was asked who was in the house, and I told them my wife and three kids. They said we were all under quarantine. When I asked if they needed to be tested, they said no, because even if they are negative, they’d assume they were positive because we are in the same household.”
The father said the family received an emailed letter, spelling out the requirements before receiving another letter, this one in someone else’s name.
“They sent us a letter for our kids, but it was addressed to someone else and her child,” the mom said, who was told that letter was sent in error and to expect another.
When that letter arrived, it said the couple’s three children had tested positive.
Wright, the health director, said he’s well aware of the social media banter about inflated numbers, including discussions about similar instances such as the one involving the local family and false positives.
“There have been some false positives,” Wright said. “But how many false negatives has there been? They could be offsetting, meaning the numbers are fairly accurate.”
The father said despite feeling under the weather for a couple of days when his first symptoms appeared, he is now OK.
“I felt like crap for two days, now I feel fine,” he said Friday. “No one else in the family is showing any symptoms.”
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