Woman questions COVID-19 test accuracy at CenturyLink Sports Complex

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
People wait to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in Lee County during the early phase of the rollout. Credit: WINK News.

A woman we spoke to says she received contradicting COVID-19 test results recently. She says she tested negative at CenturyLink Sports Complex, but tested positive at a Lee Health hospital the same day. She also says it’s not the first time she is battling COVID-19.

The coronavirus test site at CenturyLink Sports Complex in south Fort Myers will be operational again Saturday after it was closed New Year’s Day.

Leanis Diaz told us she tested positive for COVID-19 at CenturyLink and at Cape Coral Hospital in late November. Two weeks later, she thought she was in the clear when she tested negative twice at Century Link Sports Complex.

But to start the new year, things got scary for her, and she began to question the accuracy of the rapid tests at the ballpark test site.

After thinking she overcame her battle with COVID-19, Diaz says things took a turn for the worse last Sunday.

“I went to CenturyLink; I had 103 fever, so I went, and I tested negative,” Diaz explained. “Well, I wasn’t comfortable because I had a high fever, so I figured something was wrong.”

She went to Cape Coral Hospital the same day but says she received different results.

“When I go to the hospital, I test positive for COVID,” Diaz said. “My thing is how many people are walking around there testing negative and they are positive? That’s why our numbers are spiking so high.”

Diaz is not the only one who has questions about the accuracy of CenturyLink’s rapid tests. Back in November, we spoke with Sabine Mueller with MyTest Diagnostics, a lab that does COVID-19 tests. Mueller shared similar concerns.

“We had several people testing that didn’t confirm with what we found with the proper nasal swab and the high-sensitive PCR testing,” Mueller said. “These people are in false safety thinking they are negative with the testing; they’re not contagious and in fact they are.”

Diaz says doctors are unsure if she contracted COVID-19 two separate times or if she never got over her first infection.

She is grateful she got a second test last weekend and got the care she needed while she was in the hospital.

“Had I come home, we wouldn’t have been having this conversation. My family would have been burying me,” Diaz said. “I thought I was dying.”

Diaz wonders how many more people are getting false negatives and spreading the virus unknowingly.

“I’m really scared that there is a lot of people out there right now with this and are walking around just like me,” Diaz said. “Not doing an accurate test, you’re taking lives.”

We reached out to Florida Department of Emergency Management, which runs the CenturyLink test site, when we first heard about possible discrepancies with the tests back in November. The state division directed us to Abbott Laboratories, the company that makes the test, and told us at the time people can also request a PCR test, which experts say is more accurate.

We reached out to the state division Friday about what kind of training the people administering the tests receive, and we are still waiting for a response. We are also awaiting a response from Abbott.

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