A health insurance company for members of the U.S. military apologized for mistakenly telling more than 600,000 service members that they were infected with the coronavirus when they were not.
Tricare released a statement last week explaining a poorly-worded email that implied each of the recipients were COVID-19 survivors.
“As a survivor of COVID-19, it’s safe to donate whole blood or blood plasma, and your donation could help other COVID-19 patients,” the email read, according to American Military News.
“Your plasma likely has antibodies (or proteins) present that might help fight the coronavirus infection,” it continued. “Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19. However, there is information that suggests plasma from COVID-19 survivors, like you, might help some patients recover more quickly from COVID-19.”
Six hours later, Tricare’s regional manager, Humana Military, issued an apology.
“In an attempt to educate beneficiaries who live close to convalescent plasma donation centers about collection opportunities, you received an email incorrectly suggesting you were a COVID-19 survivor,” the insurer explained. “You have not been identified as a COVID-19 survivor and we apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused.”
About 31,000 U.S. military servicemen have been diagnosed with COVID-19—far fewer than the 600,000 people the email targeted.
Some critics were quick to point out that this is a strategy health officials have used from the get-go to make the pandemic seem worse than it actually is.
In Virginia, for example, the state health department was caught combining the results of antibody and viral coronavirus tests, making it seem like there were many more active cases in the state than there actually were.
And in Florida, individual hospitals have been disputing the positive case numbers released by the state health department, arguing that their experiences do not line up with the numbers the state is reporting.
Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Minn., argued back in April that the federal government is encouraging this kind of false reporting by subsidizing positive coronavirus cases through Medicare payments and federal bail-outs.
“How can anyone not believe that increasing the number of COVID-19 deaths may create an avenue for states to receive a larger portion of federal dollars?” Jensen explained.
“Already some states are complaining that they are not getting enough of the CARES Act dollars because they are having significantly more proportional COVID-19 deaths.”