Connecticut legislative leaders are pressing Gov. Ned Lamont for answers after the state health department announced this week that 90 individuals, including some assisted living residents, were inaccurately classified as COVID-19-positive, placing them at risk for the illness.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health reported that 144 individuals — five assisted living community residents, 63 nursing home residents and 21 staff members, and one hospital patient — initially were reported as COVID-19-positive in tests conducted June 15 to 17. Inconsistencies at a state public health laboratory led to a review of those results, which then showed only 54 positive results.
Christopher Carter, president of the Connecticut Assisted Living Association, said the organization was not made aware of the identities of the assisted living residents due to privacy concerns but that the association is aware that all affected individuals have been contacted by the state, and a limited number will be re-tested. An “expedited test analysis regimen” used at the state lab resulted in the mistake, he added.
Health officials blamed test manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific, based in Waltham, MA, for failing to notify state officials that it altered certain test procedures, the Connecticut Mirror reported.
Based on federal and state health guidelines, lawmakers said the false positives placed those individuals at risk for contracting the virus because long-term care facilities normally assign COVID-19-positive residents to an isolated area with other people who have the virus. Also, due to low supply levels, Connecticut long-term care facility staff members reportedly reused personal protective equipment, including masks and gowns, in COVID-19 wings, adding to potential exposure of these individuals.
The effects of the false positives will not be known until residents and patients are re-tested and the investigation is complete, according to the state.