Facebook post about woman with COVID-19 visiting H-E-B is false, woman says

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman at the center of a viral Facebook post alleging she visited a south Austin H-E-B grocery store after testing positive for COVID-19 says the post is false, and she has not tested positive for the virus.

On Wednesday afternoon, KXAN began receiving dozens of emails from people concerned about the Facebook post, which shows the woman saying she visited an H-E-B at Oltorf Street and South Congress Avenue. One commenter says he thought she had tested positive for COVID-19. The woman then answers the commenter and says she stayed in her car and wore a mask while her husband did the shopping.

In an email to KXAN, the woman said she has never tested positive for COVID-19, and she was only “engaging in joking banter.” KXAN is not disclosing the woman’s name to minimize harassment.

“In retrospect, I should have just said NO and left it at that,” she said. “The next post in that thread I stated that I have NOT tested positive, but that was not included in the screenshot [a Facebook user] started circulating.”

The woman said she has not been tested for COVID-19 because she hasn’t qualified for testing or exhibited symptoms of the virus. She said she took a trip, returned on March 7 and has been self-quarantined as a precaution.

“I have received so many nasty messages and death threats via various means since people posted my personal contact information,” the woman said in an email to KXAN. “My sister has Stage IV cancer, and I am her primary caretaker. We have been taking extra precautions. The entire thing was taken way out of context.”

The woman said she has not been asked to self-quarantine but decided to do so as a precaution.

An H-E-B spokesperson released the following statement: “When H-E-B was made aware of the unconfirmed social media dialogue we took immediate precautionary measures and sanitized the shopping area. Additionally, we contacted the individual and were informed that she has not been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is not exhibiting symptoms.”

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a novel coronavirus discovered last year. The virus has spread across the globe, killed thousands and disrupted businesses worldwide.

You can read more of KXAN’s coverage of coronavirus here.

An Austin Public Health spokesperson said Thursday the department is “not monitoring anyone who has made claims on social media at this time.”

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