NDDOH: Hundreds of Fargo COVID-19 tests were mishandled

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 1:33 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - State health officials say hundreds of COVID-19 tests were mishandled from a Fargo testing site last week.

In a statement to Valley News Live, health officials say 349 COVID-19 samples were not able to be analyzed from an event last Friday at Rheault Farm. They say the samples were added to a different refrigerator than what is customary and, as a result, the samples went undetected past the time where they could be tested.

Melissa Frye says she was one of the 349 tested, but says the Department of Health was radio silent throughout the holiday weekend. She says when she finally got a call late Tuesday morning, it wasn’t the news she thought she’d receive.

“They said where they were calling from with an apology and let me know that my test was with a group that was mishandled, and they advised me to get retested,” Frye said.

The Department of Health says the samples were put in a different refrigerator than normal, and as a result, the samples went undetected past the time where they could be tested.

“My concern is how many of them were healthcare workers or people taking care of elderly that went and got a test and didn’t get results,” Frye said.

Frye says she worries some who were tested at the event might have thought their no news was good news, and could have traveled or gathered with large groups over the holiday weekend.

I’m angry and upset that we’re celebrating these little victories that aren’t victories and we’re giving the people a false sense of security everything being ok. And I can tell you in my home, we’re not ok because we have COVID here and we’re incredibly sick," she said.

Frye says she’s been dealing with symptoms of COVID-19 throughout the weekend, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, but says thankfully she’s not nearly as sick as her significant other who tested positive last Thursday.

“He now has pneumonia and dehydration, so I’m monitoring his O2 saturation just to make sure he’s not hypoxic, but once he does get to that point I’d bring him in to the hospital and he most likely would be admitted,” Frye said.

Frye says she’s getting another test with her healthcare provider, and hopes the other three hundred forty eight do, too.

The North Dakota Department of Health clarifies the mishandling of the tests was done by the state and not those working at the Rheault Farm site. ‘This was the first time this issue has happened at the state lab. Processes and procedures at the state lab are being updated to ensure it doesn’t happen again. We reached out to all impacted individuals to apologize for the inconvenience and ask that they retest,’ officials said.

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