September 20, 2020

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Thousands of North Carolina residents incorrectly told they had coronavirus

Sep 16, 2020 | ,

Thousands of North Carolina residents were recently told they had positive coronavirus tests, but it was a mistake.

More than 6,700 individuals in Mecklenburg County in North Carolina were told in a text message sent from Mecklenburg County Health Department on Friday that they tested positive for COVID-19 and over 500 people were told through a county email that they were also infected with the novel coronavirus. But the results were incorrect due to a technical error by Health Space, the company they use for contact tracing, according to a statement on the county’s website.

“An error during routine maintenance last Friday resulted in a county data vendor sending erroneous texts and email messages to people saying they were positive for COVID-19,” the statement on the county website said.

CORONAVIRUS TRACING APPS LAUNCHING IN 3 MORE STATES

County Manager Dena Diorio sent an email to the Board of County Commissioners Monday afternoon that was posted to the government website.

covid-positive- Thousands of North Carolina residents incorrectly told they had coronavirus Top Stories U.S. [your]NEWS

The error affected thousands of residents. (iStock)

“Very quickly we began to work with the vendor to understand the issue and make sure that it did not continue. Once corrected we were told that 6,727 text messages and 541 emails were sent to individuals who were already in their system. We then worked with the vendor to send a corrected text/email to all that received the erroneous one,” the email stated in part.

At first, the county said the messages were a scam, stating in their tweet, “Public Health does not send out COVID-19 testing results via text message. If you’ve received a text like the one below, do not click the link and do not respond with any private information.”

But hours later, the county sent out a tweet stating, “These texts were sent due to a technical glitch in the software system that has been addressed by the software provider.”

The county has been using Health Space since May to help with contact tracing, Diorio told county commissioners in an email.

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