Losing a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic can be especially difficult, but one man in Tennessee lost his mother two weeks before the first reported case in his county. Last week, however, he received a letter telling him his deceased mother tested positive for COVID-19 — a test she allegedly took in June, three months after her death.
Troy Whittington received the letter from Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) last week, Newsweek reported. The letter explained his mother had been tested on June 20 and should self-isolate for 10 days. Nothing in the letter made sense, as Sandra Whittington died of COPD on February 16 – two weeks before the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Shelby County.
“I’m just having a hard time understanding how they can say someone has COVID-19 when they are not even alive,” Troy told WATN.
“It’s been 6 months, almost 7, since she passed away. There was no testing that was done at that time. On her death certificate it was stated she died, what the cause of death was, and it was not COVID-19. It was COPD,” Whittington added.
Whittington told the outlet he called the SCHD to get to the bottom of this and was told his mother took a COVID-19 test on June 20.
“It’s impossible for someone to be tested on June 20, who passed away on February 16th,” Whittington told WATN. “I tried to call the health department this morning, ask them why this was going on. She said she would have to get a supervisor. She was sorry for the mistake or she couldn’t tell me any information till she got a supervisor, and I haven’t heard back from them.”
Whittington further told the outlet that the whole episode has him questioning the county COVID-19 statistics as well as the statistics of the rest of the nation.
“I would just like for the health department to be more accurate.” He added, “They have a record of her death there. That is where I got the death certificate from and it’s in the same building they’re sending out saying she is positive, which is not possible.”
The other problem with the letter was the fact that, if accurate, Whittington’s mother would have been tested two months before receiving the notification that she was positive and needed to isolate.
“We’re talking two months later. She needs to be quarantined for 10, well we’ve got 60 days from the time of the test to get the letter out to her which is unacceptable,” Whittington said.
Newsweek reached out to the SCHD, which said it apologized to Whittington and was reviewing how the situation occurred.
“Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter personally spoke with Mr. Whittington on Thursday and a letter of apology from her was sent to the family on Friday. As an agency, we are in the process of reviewing current procedures and are implementing additional safeguards that will help to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future,” the SCHD told Newsweek.