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Fake COVID-19 testing sites are popping up amid Omicron surge

Covid testing
Posted at 2:42 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 16:43:30-05

COVID-19 clinics across the United States are under investigation after patients reported issues with testing, accuracy and care.

Margo Benval and her husband were exposed to COVID-19 in December as they searched for a PCR test appointment in Tucson. Everything seemed to be full for several days, then she discovered a free walk-up testing site operated by the Center for Covid Control.

"I was expecting to see kind of a clinic kind of atmosphere, and it wasn't," Benval explained.

A receptionist with a loose-fitting mask, took pictures of both sides of their identification cards, and took down their email addresses.

"The receptionist was also the technician, so she took us into this little side room which was equally as bizarre. I mean it's not tidy or anything," said Benval.

Benval and her husband were then told a PCR test backlog would delay results and a rapid test was the best option as the technician proceeded to hand out swabs and told them to do the test themselves, and that their test results would be emailed to them.

"The whole time I was in there, I was going 'something doesn't feel right,'" Benval said.

The Better Business Bureau has given the company an F-rating and its now being investigated by Better Business Bureaus in multiple states. After looking further into the company, which is based in Illinois, the company's web site says it offers free rapid tests and PCR tests at more than 275 locations nationwide, including four in the Phoenix area, and at the location in Tucson, Arizona.

County health officials say sites doing rapid tests must have a clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment or CLIA license. A database search found the Center for COVID Control has a CLIA number based in Wisconsin, and the company stated they partner with Doctors Clinical Laboratory, which also has a CLIA number.

No contact information was found and the Arizona Department of Health Services said they don't receive results from either company.

As of Monday, there aren't any current investigations in Arizona into the Center for COVID Control. The state Attorney General's office and the Southern Arizona Better Business Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

This story was originally published by Jay Strubberg of Newsy.