THD Fixes Issue After Over 50 People Receive Mistaken Positive COVID-19 Texts

Tuesday, October 20th 2020, 9:29 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

TULSA, Okla. -

Dozens of people received a text from the Tulsa Health Department saying they tested positive for COVID-19, and then found out it was a mistaken message.

The Tulsa Health Department has been working to rectify the communications issue. 

Mark Prater said getting the positive test result made his heart sink because he had just been to his father's funeral with more than 60 guests. 

Mark Prater said he and his fiancée went to the Tulsa Health Department Friday to get a COVID-19 test since he was worried they may have been exposed to the virus. 

“They told us we wouldn't be directly contacted with the results we would have to log in the website,” said Prater.

That's why Prater was confused when he received a text on Monday saying he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We started contacting everyone we could think of that we had been in contact with,” Prater said.

Prater had attended his father's funeral over the weekend and he was worried he’d put several people at risk. 

"Pregnant nieces, the funeral home where we just had services for my dad, elderly aunts, my siblings, I was contacting everybody,” Prater said.

About an hour after that initial text, he received a follow up telling him the message was sent in error and someone from the health department would be in touch. Prater had to go back and call everyone again.

“With everything else going on and people so worried, for a mistake to be made like this it was unnecessary stress,” Prater said.

The Tulsa Health department said Friday's COVID-19 tests were the first to be a part of their new online reporting system and 56 people who had tested negative were told they were positive by mistake. The department said it realized the mistake within 15 minutes and called every person to correct the problem and give them their negative result.

Prater said that negative test brought a sigh of relief. 

"Until then, your heart was on the floor,” Prater said.

You can read the full statement from the Tulsa Health Department below.

"The Tulsa Health Department recently moved to an online system for COVID-19 results reporting. The testing that was administered Friday was the first batch of tests to use the online results reporting system. The results were provided to individuals on Monday. Because this is the first time the system was used, a system error caused 56 individuals who tested negative for COVID-19 to receive a link to a contact tracing survey indicating that they were positive. We caught the error within 15 minutes, and immediately sent an SMS message to those individuals to let them know they received the link in error and that a THD representative will be calling them with their correct results. All 56 individuals were called by a THD staff member and their proper test results were provided. The system error has been corrected. It’s important to note that this was an individual results reporting error, and those individuals were notincluded as positive cases on the THD COVID-19 dashboard or by the Oklahoma State Department of Health."