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Boston lab coronavirus testing suspended due to nearly 400 false positives

covid boston lab

Early in August, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health investigated after it noticed the unusual high positive rate of COVID-19 tests reported by Orig3 Laboratory.

During the investigation, it was found that there were at least 383 false positives that were actually negative from the COVID-19 virus, upon retesting the results were negative.

On August 8, Orig3n, a biotechnology company which has dozens of clients in nursing homes, stopped its COVID-19 testing activity at the request of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

After the state health officials found out about the unusual record of a high number of positive cases, the suspension came for how many days.

On August 27, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said that it notified Orig3n and they had been cited with three huge certification deficiencies that may put the patients at immediate risk of harm.

A health department spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News that the Boston Lab is required to respond to a written plan of correction and it can face sanction if it will not be able to take action.

Moreover, the health department had said that there were roughly 60 nursing homes that either still are or had been clients of the biotechnology company, Orig3n.

The Pines Edge nursing center at the North Hill Retirement Community located in Needham, Massachusetts was one among the list of the nursing homes that did receive falsely positive results when being tested with the COVID-19 testing by the Orig3n.

The president and CEO of North Hill, Ted Owens, told NBC News in a statement that on August 3, the Pine Edge nursing center had been notified that there were 18 employees and one resident who had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The facility moved into isolation sbd the employees were all sent to their respective homes with paid sick leave since the nursing center wasn’t aware that the tests were not accurate. 

Owens said in his statement that they had notified their community of residents, family members, and employees about the positive case situation, which understandably brought a huge concern. The costs of the facility were also very big. The false-positive results created a huge impact of fear and anxiety among employees, residents, and the family members of both.

By following two rounds of retesting on August 10, the results were returned into negative. Thereafter, the facility was already permitted to move the resident out of isolation and the employees could return to their work.

Cindy Director who has a 99-year-old cousin currently living at the center,  told NBC Boston that she was surprised with the mix-up. She thought that the testing has been exercrable. She added that when you are connected with such a nursing home you have need to do and check if everything is right.

Another nursing home which is working with Massachusetts, the facility has also been partnering and working with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The department said in a statement that it will end it’s tie with the biotechnology company, Orig3n, after the following news of the said false positives of COVID-19.

The spokesperson said that after the NC DHHS became aware of concerns about the vendor from the Massachusetts Department of Health, a stop order was issued for the contract with Orig3n and all results that the laboratory had collected in the final week of events were instead processed by NC DHHS.

In the investigation made by the Massachusetts health department, they’ve found that Orig3n failed to provide management and direction, they’ve lacked proper testing materials, and they did not document the sanitization practices every day.

According to the health department, the biotechnology company, Orig3n, was allowed to begin the operation of COVID-19 testing from the month of April and they need to provide a written plan action until September 14.

An Orig3n spokesman told Gannett New England, 

which first reported the story last week, that the false positives were because of “human error” at the beginning of the laboratory testing process that caused some tests to become contaminated.

Tony Plohoros, the spokesperson had said that the lab was already working together with the health officials to correct the problems that have occured at the facility.

According to the Boston Globe, the scale of Orig33n’s mistaken testing still remained as not clear, since the state Health officials didn’t do the re-testing of every sample the facility has processed. 

Robin Smith, the laboratory chief executive said that the outlet where Orig3n processed the “tens of thousands”  of coronavirus tests over the past three months for clients across the country.

The Somerville Moves To Phase 3

On September 8, the Boston suburb became the last community recorded in the state that was 

under the third phase of the state’s coronavirus recovery, allowed the gyms, some other businesses to reopen.

The mayor’s office said in a statement last week that 

all of the businesses who reopened must strictly meet the safety requirements and should have a city-approved health and safety plan.

Moreover, Somerville also continued  in limiting the number up to 10  people who are allowed to gather in one place. 

Furthermore, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported there are 168 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and an additional eight fatalities on Tuesday, September 8.

In addition to the record on September 8, there were up to 368 people in the hospital with the disease, and with 47 patients in intensive care.

For over the past two weeks, the seven days tolling average of daily new cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts had been declining, going from almost 373 on August 24 to near number of 336 on Monday, September 7, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering

The average positive rate of the COVID-19 in  Massachusetts was dropping over the past two weeks. From the 2.06 percent on August 24 decreased to 1.59 percent as of September 7.

(Source: Coronavirus testing at Boston lab suspended after nearly 400 false positives)

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