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MSU students with COVID-19 concerned about false negative test results

Posted at 8:07 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 20:07:19-04

This week, Michigan State University announced a big jump in coronavirus cases. As of Tuesday, there were at least 124 new cases, mostly tied to students living off-campus. But what if those numbers are actually much higher? The 7 Investigators spoke to some students who say they got false negatives for their initial COVID-19 tests on campus.

Hannah Mattes, Addison Enders and Maria Paluzzi grew up together in the Grosse Pointes. They’ve studied abroad together, they’re now roommates at Michigan State University, and unfortunately they all got COVID-19 together as well.

“Everyone’s like ‘oh your totally fine,’ no we’re actually not. Thank goodness we are now, but it was scary,” Enders said.

Mattes adding, “We were all pretty sick."

The MSU seniors say after they noticed sore throats, body aches and other symptoms, they decided to get tested last Thursday at the on-campus test site inside Spartan Stadium.

Enders tested positive for COVID-19. But Mattes and Paluzzi got negative results saying the virus was “not detected.”

“I knew from the beginning that it was a false negative, because the weirdest thing for me was the no taste and no smell,” Paluzzi said.

The roommates decided to travel off-campus to a Sparrow hospital drive-through test site to get swabbed a second time.

“I would just feel bad if we went around and got more people exposed to the virus. So just to be safe and take precaution. And we were super sick so we wanted to know what medicine to take and what to do if we had it,” Mattes said.

Those results for all three young women came back positive for COVID-19. And that raises questions about how many other students had false negative results from the on-campus test site, and then did not quarantine themselves.

“We were probably the only ones that did something like that,” Paluzzi said. “It’s also because we were super sick. So if we weren’t as sick as we were, we wouldn’t have gone to get another test.”

MSU announced on Tuesday that at least 124 students, most of them living off-campus, had tested positive. The school’s president called the increase in cases “disappointing” and said students were attending large gatherings, one of the fastest ways to spread the virus.

Mattes, Enders and Paluzzi say they have not attended large gatherings, and have been wearing their masks and using hand sanitizer. Now they’re concerned about how many other students also got false negative test results.

“We have really been trying to pinpoint it, but we’re totally not sure where we got it from,” Mattes said.

A spokesman for MSU told the 7 Investigators that they’re not aware of any issue with false negatives, and they encourage any student who has symptoms to get tested again if they still don’t feel well.

MSU also has some other voluntary early detection programs available on campus that they are asking all students to enroll in so they can better track the virus, including a daily saliva testing program.