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Is your COVID-19 test really negative? Let Joe Know investigates claims of fake, inaccurate tests

Mackenzie Eastma
Posted at 5:51 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 20:10:36-05

PHOENIX — It's a busy day outside a Scottsdale health clinic as we watch dozens of people getting a finger prick for a COVID-19 test.

But they don't know the serious concerns about the test and the person giving it.

Andrea Danis, a teacher at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, thought she'd been exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom. So Danis got a swab test at a clinic recommended by the school district.

But did she just have the flu? Could she go back to school soon? Danis says she asked around and found a woman known in the district for getting fast test results.

"She pricked my finger, took a little blood, put it in what looks like a little pregnancy test and waited and waited," she says.

Danis says in three minutes, the test showed negative for active COVID.

"I would have exposed at least 100 people if I had gone to school on Monday," she says.

That's because later, Danis got back the results from her swab test. And it showed she was positive for COVID. That made a lot of sense to her since she says she had chills, fever and every textbook symptom.

Her paperwork shows the negative test was done by a business called 360Care and tester Mackenzie Eastman.

I showed a picture of the woman we saw testing outside the Scottsdale clinic. She verified that's the woman who tested her.

Concerned about inaccurate testing, Danis complained to the Scottsdale Unified School District.

"These allegations are alarming," says governing board member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Greenburg says it's the second allegation turned over to the Arizona Attorney General's Office in a month, both involving the same business.

But the other allegation may be even more troubling. It involves being able to buy negative tests for students who may have never taken a COVID-19 test.

"Rather than taking a test, someone will give you a piece of paper saying you have been tested for COVID and you have tested negative. Both allegations are troubling," Greenburg says.

Back at the clinic, I posed as a potential 360Care client. I asked if I can buy a negative COVID-19 test and not take the actual test.

Eastman said she cannot do that legally. She says she could lose her license. Danis said Eastman told her she was a nurse, but she told me she was a physician's assistant.

We could not find Arizona licenses for either under the name Mackenzie Eastman.

Greenburg says Scottsdale Unified isn't in a position to investigate the allegations. Instead, they sent them to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

That office tells us they consider the allegations "serious," and says, "we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of them."

Meanwhile, 360Care in Scottsdale continues to take blood and test for active COVID-19 infection. But is it even the right test?

Again, posing as a potential client, I'm told it's an IGM/IGG test and that it will detect active COVID.

But that's not what Mayo Clinic doctor Elitza Theel says. Mayo's Director of Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory says there is no blood test that can detect active COVID-19.

She says the test 360Care says it uses is an antibody test for past COVID, not active. "You could be falsely negative at the time of testing," she says.

Theel says only swab tests detect current infection. And that could be why the Danis swab test showed positive, while the other was negative.

"It's a prime example of why we should not use antibody tests to detect active infection," she says.

When I told Eastman I was a reporter at ABC15, she said she didn't want to talk to me and walked away. I tried asking about allegations of fake tests and about the teacher's results. She says she didn't remember Danis and she stopped testing for that day.

Later, I asked Eastman again if she wanted to clarify anything. In a voice message, she stands by the tests and says they do detect active COVID. She also claimed we made false accusations. But she didn't clarify what those would be.

Danis says it's too late for her. "My main concern is that other people do not fall prey to this and they get legitimate testing and legitimate testing results," she says.

Scottsdale Unified did not send out warnings. But Greenburg says it may be a good idea to warn parents about how to find COVID testing sites.

Doctor Theel says when you do get a COVID test, you should also get paperwork. That should include the manufacturer, the name of the test and facts about what you are getting.