Recently there have been a number of similar stories shared on social media indicating someone planned to get tested for COVID-19, never completed the test because the wait was too long, then received a letter indicating they were positive for COVID-19. Similar stories are being shared on social media around the nation. These stories say this is why COVID-19 numbers are rising.
It’s hard to know where or how this originated. What we do know is once information like this is out in the public eye, it is easy to see why others may find it concerning and want to share it broadly as a warning. With information changing frequently, we should be careful not to assume everything we read online, especially on social media, is accurate, truthful, and complete. If something seems off, take a deeper look and be sure to verify the source of the information. Remember, it’s always ok to reach out to your local health care organizations for more information or clarity.
Here are a few facts about local COVID-19 testing:
- Fact: COVID-19 test results are not sent in the mail by Kootenai Health. Positive results are communicated to the doctor who ordered the test by phone and are also available it the online patient portal. The doctor will then call the patient to relay this result. Panhandle Health District may send a certified letter with test results if a person cannot be reached by phone after multiple attempts. This is very rare.
- Fact: Someone who did not have a test performed for COVID-19 would not receive results.
- Fact: The test for COVID-19 virus (not to be confused with antibody testing) is quite accurate. It is much more likely to have a false negative (testing too early or insufficient sample) than a false positive.
- Fact: Medical providers or testing facilities do not “receive more money” for positive test results.
Note: No medical test is 100 percent accurate. The accuracy depends on the test, how it was collected and the duration of the illness. Additionally, health care workers are human and there is always a chance for human error.
If someone discovers an error at any point in the testing process, it is important for them to inform the organization or people who are involved so they can investigate and improve the process to prevent future errors. If someone is sharing information about an error in the testing process, please encourage them to reach out to the testing organization or their physician for help.
Be aware that second-hand stories that site someone else’s experience may be fraudulent information or scams. Please help be part of the solution. We are all in this together.