Local officials warn of some pop-up COVID-19 test sites | Chicago News - Market News
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Local officials warn of some pop-up COVID-19 test sites | Chicago News

Local officials warn of some pop-up COVID-19 test sites |  Chicago News

As if the pandemic wasn’t hard enough, people now need to consider whether the test site they’re going to is legit. The CEO of the Better Business Bureau says that if a COVID-19 testing site asks for a credit card or your Social Security number, that should be a big red flag.

“Some of them are just bad companies, they don’t get their data right, they don’t do the tests right. Then you have the scammers who take a lot of information from them like their social security number and some people who are being charged. Some of these consumers are coming to us saying they will be charged for prompt service,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​of Chicago and Northern Illinois. Bernas said suspicious test sites have been identified and they have shared information with the government.

The reality is that it can be confusing to understand whether a site is real or not. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has also received numerous complaints about the influx of pop-up sites popping up all over the state. He says people should check that testing sites are licensed and regulated.

“There will be pop-up sites that basically use a legitimate lab, but it’s important to ask who they use as their lab and to make sure that lab is certified. It’s called CLIA certified. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention actually has a list of CLIA-certified labs,” Raoul said.

Raoul also says this is a national challenge as the country navigates the latest omicron COVID-19 wave and people scramble to find test sites.

Many of these pop-up sites appear due to a lack of city and state-run sites, raising calls for those sites, including from Ald. Mary Hadden (49th Ward)

“Since 2020, your elected officials, myself and others, have been asking for public testing sites. We had to organize many test sites and were fortunate to have great health partners. But this reliance on just a pop-up, anyone who can license a company through the website and connect to the lab, I don’t think is appropriate and I think as we enter this phase where there is no end and see that testing is a part of us is to be able to live. I think the government really needs to act to make sure we have good legit sites,” Hadden said.

While some sites can stand alone, others are chains.

The Center for Covid Control is temporarily closing all their branches. (WTTW news)

A testing organization called The Center for Covid Control, which operates hundreds of testing sites across the country and has an “F” rating with the BBB. There is a location in the Rogers Park area that was in operation this morning and people were going in. WTTW News also went to other locations nearby where they asked for a driver’s license number. Some of these test sites operated out of an auto repair shop and massage parlors.

Ann Lundy, Chief Operating Officer of Community Health Network access, says they have six testing sites, and right now it’s important for people to spend some time researching to protect themselves.

“The advice I would give to people who really want to choose a testing site is that they really should look for one that is managed and staffed by medical professionals, which is really important, these are lab tests and they should be performed by certified professionals, said Lundy.

The proliferation of cases has backed up some labs, but it’s vital to ask questions when walking into a COVID-19 testing site.

Your best bet is on your way to the Illinois Department of Health and the CDC where they have a list of verified COVID-19 testing activity. But Bernas predicts this will become a problem until the government releases a stronger plan to shut down fake test sites.

“I’ve seen things like this happen in my 34-year career. Every industry has bad actors, but unfortunately this simmering seems to be released and coming to a boil locally but nationally, so we’re concerned about it, I think it needs to be more government oversight,” Bernas said.

The Center for Covid Control is temporarily closing all their branches. They say it is to retrain their staff. But the move comes amid investigations into the company.

Note: This story will be updated with video.