An Orange County public health lab error in reporting on 10 coronavirus tests caused 10 elderly nursing home residents to be exposed to the virus and one of the people just tested positive for the virus, county officials said.

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“It was in the communication of a negative result and how we communicated that to the skilled nursing facility … we communicated a negative result as a positive to the skilled nursing facility,” county Chief Executive Officer Frank Kim said at a Friday news conference. 

Kim said OC Health Care Agency staff conducted the 10 tests roughly two weeks ago and when officials learned about the error Thursday, they immediately retested the 10 people. One of those people tested positive for the virus. 

He said the reporting error was discovered by the nursing home staff when they compared lab documents to what the county previously told the nursing home. The nursing home staff notified county officials about the error Thursday.

The 10 people were put into the virus part of the nursing facility after the error. Officials declined to say which nursing home it is or in what city it’s located. 

Health Care Agency Director, Dr. Clayton Chau, said the person who just tested positive is asymptomatic and may have caught it when they were in the coronavirus section of the nursing home. 

“That is a possibility. That is why we want to inform the family and inform the residents,” Chau said at Friday’s news conference. 

The other nine people will be quarantined for two weeks and all families involved have been notified, Kim said. 

“The nine individuals who tested negative were immediately moved from the COVID positive section of the facility … to complete a 14-day quarantine.” 

Meanwhile, county officials will be examining how the error was made. 

“We’re going through that process and obviously reviewing all of the steps that occurred,” Kim said. “Where there could have been human error, a systems error. We’re looking at that workflow to determine exactly what happened.” 

Chau said it’s the first virus test reporting error in the county, so far. 

“As far as we know we are not aware of any other error like this, but as Mr. Kim mentioned earlier, we immediately sent our office of quality improvement to do a full assessment of this error,” Chau said. 

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.

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