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COVID Test Confusion After Suburban Family Believes They Got False Result from University Of Illinois SHIELD Program

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There's a big spike in COVID-19 cases in Illinois.

There were more than 11,500 new COVID-19 cases since Wednesday. That's the highest daily count this year, and it's more than double Wednesday's number.

CBS 2 has learned a record number of tests were done in the past 24 hours. But one northwest suburban family said a recent test done in their son's school turned their life upside down.

The test was provided by the University of Illinois covidSHIELD program, which is in hundreds of schools across the state and close to a quarter of a billion dollars had been spent on the testing program.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey sat down with the family, who said tracking down answers was harder than it should have been.

The family said they opted into the voluntary testing program through District 15 in Palatine and it ended being more of a headache than a help.

"The teacher was great. She would have the kids come in every day go over and say hi to Theo," said Heather Marros.

She said she and her husband were confused by their six-year-old son's positive covidSHIELD test back on Oct. 27 - especially after multiple follow up tests turned up negative.

"Our school said the SHIELD test was being used as a diagnostic test and no other test would be accepted," Marros said.

Ten days of quarantine for both Theo and his older sister, Abigail, were very difficult on the family. But Marros said tracking down answers about the test and providing their feedback was even more frustrating.

"Because it was so hard to get in contact with a live body," Marros said. "In terms of over the phone even via emails or anything like that. In a an email we received, they said they'd look into and get back to us and nothing ever came from that."

Nearly 2.5 million University of Illinois SHEILD tests have been administered over the last year, in part, thanks to the help of a whopping $225 million in federal funding. The family pointed to the test's Food and Drug Administration authorization letter, which said they "must maintain customer complaint files."

A SHIELD spokesperson said, "Patients' ability to report concerns about the accuracy of their results is available through our patient support phone number and on the SHIELD Illinois website."

The company claims that patient support line has received over 36,000 calls since July. But Marros said she was only offered tech support when they called. No one could help with questions about testing accuracy. They're speaking up because they'd like for other families in the future to have quicker access to answers.

"I think just a better partnership with the families if they decided to opt into the SHIELD program," Marros said. "That if there is a positive, that they can follow up with a family doctor to ensure that there is an actual positive, not just a false positive."

The family was never able to definitively say it was a false positive. A spokesperson for District 15 said they're aware of the situation and have been in communication with this family and assisted the family in providing their feedback directly with the contacts that they work with at SHIELD.

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