Local woman forced to quarantine after testing positive, then negative the day after

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HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) — A woman from Horseheads said she was being forced to quarantine by the Chemung County Health Department after receiving a false positive COVID-19 test.

Lindsay Whalen said she had returned from Florida and got a rapid COVID-19 test. The results came back positive.

“I got the first test from Urgent Care,” said Lindsay Whalen, in quarantine.

The next day, Whalen said she got tested at Guthrie and the results came back negative. She told 18 News she had reached out to the county health department and they told her she still had to quarantine.

“They just said a positive is a positive,” Whalen said. “I brought up the reasons from everything that I’ve read and heard; that once you’re positive—you’re positive for months. So there’s no reason to have a positive, and then have a negative the very next day.”

Whalen told 18 News, she had been in quarantine for nine days, with no signs of any symptoms or illness.

One Infection Preventionist at Guthrie Hospital said depending on your health and even with a positive test followed by a negative test, some could still be asked to quarantine.

“If you have a positive test and then you continue to test negative, they’re going to ask that you, if you have a mild to moderate illness, that you would only have to really quarantine for that 10 day period,” said Tina Brackman MSN, RN, Program Manager Infection Control at Guthrie.

Brackman said rapid tests aren’t always accurate.

“The newer ones specifically outside healthcare facilities are really getting the not getting the best area of for specimen,” Brackman said. “The source, would come deep nasal pharyngeal or lower respiratory.”

She also said rapid tests only swap inside the nostril and might not get enough specimen for an accurate reading.

Whalen said she has not heard from the county since they told her she had to quarantine.

“They haven’t called me,” Whalen said. “According to the website, they’re gonna call you every day to check in on you. And they possibly could come but I haven’t heard a word from them. I pretty much had to beg for them to call me to answer my questions.”

18 News reached out to the Chemung County Public Health Director for comment and more information regarding quarantine criteria but did not hear back.

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