A testing center in South Salem displays The Center for Covid Control logo. (Joey Cappelletti/Keizertimes)
The Center for Covid Control, a Covid testing company with two locations in Salem, has found itself the focus of a state investigation after it was discovered that thousands of their tests may be invalid.
Media outlets across the country have reported that people have tested negative at the company’s testing sites, only to test positive elsewhere. Other times, people never received test results and some people that didn’t even test at sites were sent results.
Kristina Edmunson, spokesperson for Oregon's Office of the Attorney General, confirmed in an email on Jan. 19 that the Oregon Department of Justice had opened a civil investigation into The Center for Covid Control for possible violations of the Oregon Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The company is also facing investigations in Minnesota and Illinois, as well as being investigated by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Center for Covid Control operates over 300 locations in the U.S., with three testing sites in Portland and two in Salem. The Chicago-based company announced last week that it was closing all locations for a week starting on Jan. 14.
“Regrettably, due to our rapid growth and the unprecedented recent demand for testing, we haven't been able to meet all our commitments,” company CEO Aleya Siyaj said in a written statement. “We’ve made this difficult decision to temporarily pause all operations, until we are confident that all collection sites are meeting our high standards for quality."
While the company's website no longer lists specific locations, two testing locations in Salem display The Center for Covid Control logo online and in-person and are titled "Free COVID testing Salem." The two sites are located at 4641 Commercial St. S.E. and 3470 Pipebend Pl. N.E. and both are listed as temporarily closed.
Edmunson wrote that the DOJ received two consumer complaints about the company in October but didn’t launch an investigation at the time.
“Last year, we received 26,000 phone calls into our consumer hotline, resulting in over 6,000 written complaints. We first try to resolve the complaint with the company, and then, if necessary, we will open an investigation,” Edmunson said. “In this specific case, the additional information leading to opening a formal file (i.e. info about concerning practices in other states) was not received until this week.”
One of the consumer complaints in October stemmed from a testing center in Portland and the woman who filed the complaint said that the test kit she was given had expired three months prior. Additionally, the woman wrote that while she received her test results in a couple hours, the bin her test was located in hadn’t moved when she returned hours later.
“How could they have both kept the same bin full of PCR samples there and sent the samples to the lab and had results of PCR testing to me in less than three hours?” the woman wrote in the complaint.
Willamette Week reported last week that the Oregon Health Authority never received any test results from The Center for Covid Control or their lab partners Doctors Clinical Laboratory.
This article was originally published in the Keizertimes and is reprinted with permission. Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.
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