BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — A Brookings kindergarten teacher said she’s thankful she works for a school district because it provided her the information she needed after testing positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 6.
Rie Barnes said she expected to hear from the South Dakota Department of Health after her positive COVID-19 test in an urgent care facility in Sioux Falls. She received her test result within an hour. The health care provider told Barnes she’d be hearing more from the DOH about isolation and when she could return to school.
Barnes said she didn’t hear from the DOH until Sept. 30, which is 24 days after her positive COVID-19 test.
“They said they had lost my case in the shuffle…,” Barnes said.
She was told by the caller from DOH that her case was assigned to someone on Sept. 7 but it had been lost and was reassigned, Barnes said.
Although Barnes had already identified two close contacts that had to quarantine for 14 days, the DOH caller still asked for close contacts and said those contacts would be notified. “Even though the quarantine time had past,” Barnes said.
Dr. Joshua Clayton of the DOH said in a Thursday news briefing that the agency has not had a reported case where positive COVID-19 tests were lost.
“Depending on when an individual receives care and when the test results come back, depending on where those results are sent, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the individuals being notified after they have completed a 10-day isolation period,” Clayton said.
“I’m lucky I work for the school and they knew what to do. Luckily I had the resources I had,” Barnes said of being able to contact a school official about COVID-19 response.
Barnes had immediately contacted a school administrator when she learned she had COVID-19. The administrator helped her identify close contacts and explained other steps required before she could return to school.
When she hadn’t heard from the DOH by Sept. 10, she contacted the urgent care who said the test results were sent to the DOH on Sept. 7.
Barnes returned to the classroom after improvement and after completing the required number of isolation days from her first COVID-19 symptom. She went for a test because she lost her sense of taste.
None of the students in her kindergarten class got COVID-19, Barnes said. She added that her students wear masks and practice social distancing.
DOH officials said on Thursday that about 500 of the more than 700 new COVID-19 cases reported on Oct. 1 were the result of a delay in the reporting process.
The DOH had made a change to a file folder where lab results are received at the state level to accommodate some additional long-term care reporting, DOH Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said.
“In the course of that change some reports from out of state labs were being held in the file and not being (pushed out),” said DOH Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said.
The DOH’s quality assurance process identified the issue, she said. Malsam Rysdon said the problem has been fixed.
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