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Retailer: Sorry for 'Unusual and Inexplicable' Package

Illinois woman says she received someone's COVID test in an order of garden flags
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2020 11:08 AM CST
Updated Dec 26, 2020 4:00 PM CST

(Newser) – A Christmas gift-wrapping session turned a bit alarming (and a lot weird) over the weekend when an Illinois woman found a surprise addition in the package she'd ordered from Kohl's. Andrea Ellis tells the Quad-City Times she was prepping presents at her aunt's house in East Moline when she reached inside a yellow padded envelope from Kohl's to retrieve a couple of garden flags she'd ordered for her grandmother. After she took out the flags and packing slip, she says she spotted "something deeper" inside the envelope, and when she pulled it out, she was shocked at what she saw. "It was a biohazard bag containing someone's COVID-19 test specimen," she says. The bag was labeled with a woman's name, date of birth, and her doctor's contact info in Richmond, Va., which was where the Kohl's package had been shipped from.

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Ellis says she called the cops, but the officer who came by said he couldn't take it. Instead, the issue was referred to the Rock Island County Health Department, East Moline Police Chief Jeff Ramsey tells the AP. Janet Hill, the health department's COO, says her agency now has the biohazard bag, and it does seem to contain a nasal swab and patient info. "I've never heard of anything like this," she says. "I want this person to know that the test has not been done yet." Her department is trying to contact health officials in Virginia to track the patient down, and Ellis even tried contacting the patient online after finding her on LinkedIn; she hasn't heard back yet. Meanwhile, Kohl's has issued an apology for "this very unusual and inexplicable experience" and says it has begun an investigation, noting the package didn't come from Kohl's directly but from an "outside direct-ship vendor." (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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