A Dover man and small business owner in Sussex County is speaking out after the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) presented him with ‘false positive’ coronavirus test results after he had already tested negative.
David Gribbins, 45, suffers from costochondritis, a condition where the cartilage that connects the rib and breastbone becomes inflamed and causes chest pain.
Earlier this month, he went to see his primary care doctor for treatment after symptoms arose days after he and his family moved to Kent County.
Gribbins and his wife own and operate Majestic C&M, a local construction management consulting firm. On a daily basis, Gribbins meets with clients and comes into contact with various people related to his business.
During the doctors visit, Gribbins was placed on an antibiotic and steroid for the costochondritis. It was then suggested by his doctor that he be tested for coronavirus.
Having exhibited no symptoms at the time, but taking into account the asymptomatic aspects of the virus, he agreed to be tested.
Gribbins was tested on April 9 and results came back just five days later showing that he was negative for coronavirus (COVID-19). The next day he returned to work, breathing a sigh of relief following the days of quarantine.
On Friday, April 17, Gribbins received a letter in the mail from DHSS’ Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology showing that he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Stunned by the letter, Gribbins called the office and spoke to personnel over the phone, who asked if he was tested at the James W. Williams State Service Center in Dover. He was not, he was tested at LabCorp through his primary care doctor.
“He said ‘well, you tested positive at a state service center, James Williams in Dover on the 9th’,” Gribbins said. “I never went to James Williams and got a test. I went to my primary.”
About 20 minutes later, he received a call from the office explaining it was mistake.
“He calls me back 20 minutes later and says ‘I kicked this up to my supervisor and you’ve never tested positive, we’re sorry for the inconvenience.'”
It was at that point that Gribbins demanded they send a letter explaining the mishap, at which time he says they refused to do it.
“I said ‘yea, you’re not going to send me a letter because you’re going to incriminate yourself,'” Gribbins said. “You’re messing with these tests and you’re messing with these numbers and you have one paper saying I’m positive, so why would you send me another one saying anything different? You would be incriminating yourself.”
The employee from the department hung the phone up following the exchange, according to Gribbins who explained that the reason he wanted a follow up letter is because on the one they sent essentially stripped him of all of his rights under the presumed positive results.
The letter stated that he tested positive and that his rights would be waived with the following stipulations: no right to a hearing in Supreme Court, no right to obtain legal representation, no right to require that the state have proof or evidence that you’re at risk of transmitting the disease, no right to present evidence in your defense, and no right to appeal the decision.
“They took every right that I had,” Gribbins said. “I was supposed to stay in my bedroom. And then it said on there, if they find me in public they are going to lock me up for involuntary isolation against my will, and I don’t even have it!”
WGMD’s Rob Petree reached out to the DHSS Communication Department and was put in touch with Stacey Hofmann from the Coronavirus Joint Information Center, who said “we cannot provide a statement surrounding an individual case. We were made aware of your concerns and shared them with our contact investigation team.”
When pressed further, we got no response.
DHSS has refused to answer how this happened, why it happened, or if it has happened before and what this means for the current data count concerning coronavirus.