CHICAGO – The Oregon Department of Justice and the Better Business Bureau have launched investigations into an Illinois-based company that runs COVID-19 testing sites across the nation.
The Oregon Department of Justice opened a civil investigation into the Center for COVID Control this week for Unfair Trade Practices Act violations, spokesperson Kristina Edmunson said.
The company operates testing sites across the nation – some as “pop-ups” run out ofsheds and mobile storage units. Many Americans have rushed to the sites amid a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant and a national shortage of tests. But dozens of people nationwide have reached out to USA TODAY expressing concerns about the company.
Many said they discovered the sites by searching for nearby testing options on Google and were surprised by how the sites were run. Some said they received their test results later than promised or not at all.
At least two people filed complaints about the Center for COVID Control testing sites to the Oregon Department of Justice in October, USA TODAY reported last week. The individuals expressed concerns about the safety and legitimacy of the sites, alleging the sites offer “fake testing.” One said they were given a test labeled as having expired in June of 2021.
The department declined to provide additional information on the investigation.
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Meanwhile, the BBB-Minnesota and North Dakota on Monday joined an investigation into the company initiated by BBB Chicago and Wisconsin, Bao Vang, the vice president of communications for the BBB-Minnesota and North Dakota, told USA TODAY.
“BBBs across the U.S. are receiving inquiries, Scam Tracker submissions, complaints, and reviews regarding various Covid-testing sites, including inquiries regarding Center for COVID Control,” BBB spokesperson Sandra Guile said.
She added: “BBB Serving Minnesota and North Dakota, BBB Serving Wisconsin, and BBB Chicago have shared information with one another and will continue to monitor the complaints and reviews.”
The Center for COVID Control “recently” hired Crossnore Group, an Austin-based public relations firm, spokesperson Russ Keene told USA TODAY Monday evening. The company did not immediately respond to request for comment on the investigations.
Washington State has received two complaints about the Center for COVID Control, according to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. Illinois has received seven complaints about the company, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued a consumer alert Tuesday warning residents about “pop-up” COVID-19 testing sites. He did not name the Center for COVID Control, specifically.
“It is important for people to know that these sites are not licensed or regulated by a government agency,” Raoul said in a statement, “and they should ask questions before visiting a pop-up testing location – or try to utilize a state-sponsored testing site.”
There has been “an uptick” in COVID-19 fraud complaints, including complaints related to testing, an official of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General said Tuesday.
“We are seeing fraudulent activity around testing. It could be random pop-up sites, and it could be at-home test kits,” said Yvonne Gamble, the office’s Acting Director of Communications. “Be vigilant. Be careful. Be mindful, and make sure whoever you are dealing with is an authorized provider and a place that you can trust.”
Florida’s attorney general issued a statement Thursday warning about new and re-emerging COVID-19 test scams. The statement cited “recent reports of suspicious COVID-19 testing sites popping up in Illinois” that “appear legitimate but are designed to steal personal information from unsuspecting test seekers.”
Minneapolis resident Christina Weber, 31, said she reported a Center for COVID Control testing site to local officials and was later contacted by an investigator for the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, who informed her that she was not the first to report issues with the testing site.
The office was unable to confirm or deny the existence of complaints or investigations under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, said.
“That said, we would like to hear from anyone who has a complaint with this service (or any COVID-related good or service),” Stiles said.
The Center for COVID Control’s principal and mailing address is a Rolling Meadows, Illinois address – a one-story commercial office building about 15 miles northwest of O’Hare International Airport.
A Doctors Clinical Laboratory at the same address is registered with the FDA as an independent lab. A phone number listed onone websitefor the lab directs callers to a recorded message for the Center for COVID Control.
Have you experienced issues with the Center for COVID Control? Contact reporter Grace Hauck at [email protected].