Issues with virus testing

LIHU‘E — After a call confirming her negative COVID-19 test, Ese Osamu got cleared to return to work after a close contact tested positive earlier this month.

But, Osamu didn’t have a negative test, she learned later that day.

She was positive for COVID-19, a state Department of Health representative told her later. The call she got earlier must have been a mix-up.

Osamu said that, after her co-worker tested positive in April, the entire workplace got scheduled for COVID testing.

“I missed it because I felt sick,” Osamu said, so she sought to get a test on her own.

From there, she got tested, and a day later, received a call telling her she was negative. A few hours later, she got another call telling her she was positive.

“I ask her why the test came out like that after I had the same talk with someone from the hospital, and she didn’t know,” Osamu said. “She said they might’ve mistook me for taking a test with my workplace and the rest of my coworkers … because they were all negative.”

With a spike in cases last week, there has also been an uptick in those receiving testing.

Community testing at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall and commercial labs use the “gold standard” molecular, PCR/NAAT testing, DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said.

“These can be rapid, ‘point-of-care’ tests, or can be conducted in a commercial laboratory,” Berreman said. “A positive molecular test is considered definitive evidence of disease, with very few exceptions.”

Berreman said that the DOH manages all positive lab reports through case investigation, contact tracing and quarantine.

There were two tests that were initially found to be positive, late last month, that did turn out to be negative.

“The laboratory contacted us several hours later to inform us that the report was in error and that these tests were in fact negative,” Berreman said. “In discussion with the laboratory, we understand that measures are in place to minimize the likelihood of a recurrence.”

Berreman said this is not an ongoing problem, and doesn’t anticipate more of these issues moving forward.

“A single molecular test is sufficient,” Berreman said. “Repeat testing may be needed if symptoms develop or change. No test is 100% accurate 100% of the time. When the history or clinical picture conflicts with the test result, repeat testing can help clarify the situation.”

Osamu wishes the confusion could have been avoided, and wants more transparency.

“To this day I don’t understand why I had two different results confirmed, and why it might’ve been a mistake,” Osamu said.


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. C. Miles May 2, 2021 10:17 am Reply

    Does this test come out positive or negative if you had covid and have anti-bodies or even show if you had covid and may have had few or no symptoms and didn’t know it?

  2. Charles Ing May 2, 2021 2:11 pm Reply

    Wow. That statement really came from a Department oof Health official fighting a COVID surge. Dr Berreman, perhaps you need yo take a course in Virology. Care to discuss the concept of “cyclic threshold”? It is the actual quantitative amount to virus present. And then talk about the “s drop”, which could give an inconclusive result, and could be evidence of a variant! So a single molecular test being called sufficient is FALSE. And then to make a comment that “rapid point of care tests” are the same as laboratory tests means Kauai is really in trouble. .

  3. RGLadder37 May 2, 2021 10:08 pm Reply

    Did they give you a vaccine? After positive. Or wait until significant symptoms show up.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.