By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Public school employee sues GovGuam over ‘false positive’ test result
Shieh says Camacho case could be just the tip of iceberg; Doubts over rapid tests continue to mount
A public school employee who is believed to have been mistakenly identified as Covid-19 positive is seeking her release from home isolation, while challenging the accuracy of a test result that sent her and her family in a lockdown.
Representing Shaunna Camacho, the Public Defender Service Corp. today petitioned the Superior Court of Guam to order the Department of Public Health and Social Services to "show cause" why its client should not be released.
"DPHSS has not identified any basis for the self-quarantine order other than Ms. Camacho’s Abbott ID Now test result. Ms. Camacho’s children do not pose any greater risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others than does Ms. Camacho," states the motion for a hearing filed by Assistant Public Defender Brian Eggleston.
The petition noted that Camacho's quarantine was based on her Abbott ID Now "false positive result" from a test at the American Medical Clinic on Feb. 25. On the same day, Camacho received a BD Max real-time PCR (RT-
PCR) test, which returned a negative result. Another PCR test on March again returned a negative result.
“We already stayed home for most of the pandemic and now we cannot even go outside of our home," Camacho, an employee of JFK High School, said in an interview.
Camacho’s case, which further raises the red flag over rapid tests, could be just the tip of iceberg, according to Dr. Thomas Shieh.
Shieh communicated with public health officials on behalf of, and with consent from, Camacho, who tested negative twice through PCR tests, which are considered the gold standard for Covid testing.
Camacho is Shieh's patient.
“There are more false positives. Ask public health, they won’t say. They refuse. They just lock people up,” Shieh said.
“Now I wonder how many false positive Public Health have wrongfully isolated and took away people's freedom. Public health need to stop their harassment of our people such as Mrs. Camacho. I am sure there are others,” Shieh said in a letter to Guam senators.
Shieh said a laboratory pathologist in Hawaii confirmed that Camacho’s initial Rapid Abbott ID Now test was a “false positive.”
Some experts are skeptical about rapid tests, warning that they may not work as promised. If used to screen asymptomatic people, experts warned, these rapid tests will deliver hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of false results.
"Both Abbott ID now and Abbott BianX should only be used in patients with symptoms," Shieh said. "GovGuam is not following FDA EUA authorized use. If you use it on patients without symptoms it is very inaccurate."
Shieh said Camacho deserves an apology from public health officials. “JFK was falsely informed and the kids right to their education was disrupted because of public health's incompetence,” he said.
“Mrs. Camacho continued to be denied her freedom, and further denied of her right to earn her living,” he wrote in an email to Guam senators.
Camacho remains in quarantine with her four children in their Mongmong home. As a part-time teacher on call, she doesn’t get paid while in quarantine.
“It has been stressful for me. I am anxious and overwhelmed,” she said.
Janela Carrera, communications director at Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, said the agency is aware of the situation and “we are addressing it.”
However, she said, the department cannot provide specific details to protect the patient privacy.
To date, there have been a total of 7,745 officially reported cases of Covid-19 with 131 deaths, 31 cases in active isolation, and 7,583 not in active isolation.
A new batch of vaccine shipment is expected to arrive on Guam this week. Covid -19 mass vaccination clinics are scheduled to resume Monday, March 8 to Saturday, March 13 at the UOG Fieldhouse.