COVID-19 test nasal swab

The owner of a popular Bridgeville farm received a negative COVID-19 test and wound up hospitalized with the contagious respiratory virus after being part of a dozen people who were "misinformed" about their diagnosis.

Katey Evans, who owns Frozen Farmer, explained on Facebook Live that her husband, Kevin, was feeling sick on July 13, but chalked it up to his Lyme Disease. 

One of Evans' daughters felt ill Wednesday, which doctors feared might be appendicitis. Two days later, on July 17, 2020, Evans said she was informed her daughter was COVID-positive.

"Of course, that's a call no mom wants to hear; it was scary," she said through tears. "I was somewhat convinced that it was a false-positive...the hospital said 'yeah it's kind of strange that her blood count was perfect."

Evans encouraged her entire staff at the farm to get tested. Her entire family got re-tested, for free, at the Bridgeville Walgreens, which is one of three locations that's part of a new testing partnership with the state, started last week.

Tuesday, July 21, the entire family was informed they had tested negative for COVID-19, but her husband still wasn't feeling right.

"He had pretty much convinced himself over the weekend that he was COVID-positive because of the way he was feeling all weekend," she said. "At 2 o'clock in the morning, he woke up and he was vomiting; he got really dehydrated in the middle of the night; he got very dizzy; he was in and out of consciousness, and at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, I said, I think you need to go to the hospital."

He was taken by ambulance to Beebe Hospital in Lewes.

"A whole team of doctors met me at the door, and I knew it wasn't good when they did that," she said. "They tell me Kevin is getting worse, and he's green, and they weren't certain of his condition. I told them: 'Go ahead re-swab him, he's tested negative once, he'll test negative again. He has Lyme Disease, you need to be treating him for Lyme Disease...let's take care of the problem, let's not just blame it on COVID.'"

She got a call from Beebe Hospital shortly after, with shocking results.

"They said: 'This is Beebe Hospital, and [Kevin's] results actually are positive [for] COVID."

"I said: 'Are these the results that you just took?'"

"They said: 'No. These are the results on Friday, the 17th'...and I said how is that possible because I've been told by Delaware Department of Health that his test results are negative, and they said, 'well i'm telling you i'm looking at the results, and they're positive.'"

Minutes later, Evans said she got a call from the Public Health Lab in Smyrna, which again told her that the family's COVID test results were negative. 

"You told me Tuesday, that my husband's test results were negative"

"They said--'Yes, Kevin Evans, his test results are negative.'"

"I said: OK let me wrap my mind around this, I'm going to have you repeat this one more time because I want to hear it one more time."

"She said: 'Kevin Evans is COVID negative. I said: 'Let me talk to your supervisor.'"

She conferenced Senator Brian Pettyjohn in on the call, so he could hear it too.

"The supervisor that I asked to speak to, she tells me: 'there's been a mix-up, and your husband's test results are positive.' I said whoa, whoa, this is a mind game. I said I'm told they were negative Tuesday; I'm told 10 minutes ago [by Beebe] that they're hospital. I'm told twice by your lady now that they were negative and negative, and now you're on the line telling me that they're positive?" she exclaimed. "She got her dispatcher...the lady that delivers the test results, she got her back on the phone, and she says: 'Yes, Miss Evans, I'm sorry I have misinformed you. I read the results wrong.'"

"It's black and white--is it positive or is it negative? This is not about how we interpret these results; they're black and white on paper, what is right and what is wrong because my husband is laying in the hospital, and he's almost to the point of unresponsive right now, and you're telling me it's how you interpreted it?" she said through tears. "That's not acceptable...and she said: 'Well, it was a data entry error.'

While they can't speak specifically to Evans' case, the Delaware Division of Public Health has confirmed to WDEL that 12 persons who actually tested positive for COVID were "inadvertently" given negative results by telephone due to what they called an "internal DPH system error."

Spokeswoman Jennifer Brestel assures the public this was not an error on-site at three Walgreens as tests are sent to the Delaware Public Health Lab in Smyrna for processing. In the first week of the partnership, DPH said Walgreens collected 2,791 samples that were sent to the state lab. 

"All individuals involved have already been contacted by DPH, and we apologized for the uncertainty the error has caused. All reported results from the Walgreens testing sites were re-reviewed to ensure accuracy. No patients who tested negative were given incorrect results. The problem was identified and internal system improvements have eliminated the possibility of this recurring. Additionally, DPH continues to work with its vendor to establish automated results delivery."

The 12 persons in the "mix-up" were tested at all three Walgreens sites in the state, DPH said, not just the Bridgeville site.

"All reported results from the Walgreens testing sites were re-reviewed to ensure accuracy," said Brestel. No patients who tested negative were given incorrect results." 

A few hours later, Evans said she was informed by DPH that her daughter was also COVID-positive. 

"I have been told that she does; I have been told that she doesn't three times, and then I'm called back and told now that she does."

"Am I worried about my daughter? Yes, because who wouldn't be, but she's fever-free. You wouldn't know anything. She's like running around playing; she's not had a fever in over seven days."

Brestel said all positive test results were correctly reported in statewide testing numbers.

Evans said while DPH has been transparent about its error, this should never have happened, and someone should be held responsible.

"I am concerned for everyone else in the community who has been misinformed and has been out living their best life since they were told that they were COVID-negative," said Evans. 

"For them to say 'oops!' We've got...results of data entry that could be wrong? Oops, we told you Tuesday that he was negative; we told you twice this morning that he was negative, and  we told you twice this morning that he was positive. Oops! What do we believe?" she asked.

Brestel said this issue won't happen again.

"The problem was identified and internal system improvements have eliminated the possibility of this recurring. Additionally, DPH continues to work with its vendor to establish automated results delivery," Brestel said.

WDEL has reached out to Evans for an update, but she said on Facebook Friday that her husband's voice "sounded stronger."

"He was mentally more alert. He was thinking logically about our topics with little to no confusion today - big improvement. They've been taking blood from him all night so his rest has still been minimal but I told him to try his best again today to get it in between. They've been testing for every possible infection under the sun and keeping him closely monitored - glad they are on top of all of this. Oxygen levels excellent and he's sitting upright and continues moving around when he can. He sounds 10% better every time I talk to him which is amazing. Prayers are working and positive vibes are too. He has a positive attitude about all of this now, knowing getting well is the most important thing and focusing more on that than the fear - that’s so important for him to keep."