The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has been made aware by a private laboratory of 113 false positive COVID-19 test results for Rhode Islanders. This means that these 113 people were told that their results were positive when they were actually negative.
Located in New York, this private laboratory is a partner laboratory of East Side Clinical Laboratory. These 113 tests were not run at RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories.
RIDOH and East Side Clinical Laboratory have been working to contact these individuals and their contacts. All Rhode Islanders who have been tested for COVID-19 should assume that their test result is accurate unless they have been contacted and directly told otherwise.
The original (false positive) results for these people were reported between July 9th and July 14th. The 113 samples were part of a larger batch with samples from other states. In doing quality control the laboratory identified issues with the accuracy of the results in this batch. The laboratory performed an internal investigation and concluded that initial sample handling in the lab was the reason for the false positives. Also included in this batch were samples for 82 Rhode Islanders whose positive results were confirmed upon retesting. Eight Rhode Islanders are being re-swabbed so new tests can be rerun.
The historical numbers on RIDOH’s data webpage will be updated to reflect these changes. (Rhode Island’s count of total positive cases will only be adjusted down for the number of people of these 113 who had received a positive result for the first time. If someone had received an initial positive result before receiving this second, false positive result, that person is still considered a case.)