The Washington state attorney general’s office this week sued testing company The Center for COVID Control along with its partner lab, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, for allegedly providing false test results, failing to deliver results and storing tests in trash bags, among other things. The Illinois-based Center for COVID Control has more than 275 pop-up locations across the United States.
Washington state’s legal action comes about two weeks after Minnesota’s attorney general filed a similar lawsuit.
It also follows an inspection of the partner lab by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (also known as CMS), according to Block Club Chicago. CMS found noncompliance and deficiencies at the lab, the outlet reported, saying the lab was in “immediate jeopardy” after workers were observed not following procedures for rapid tests and after mistakes prevented tens of thousands of PCR tests from being processed.
The FBI has also searched the Center for COVID Control’s headquarters, USA Today reported.
All Center for COVID Control locations will be closed until further notice, according to a statement on the company’s website. During the pause, the company said, it will train additional staff on sample collection and handling, as well as other best practices. The company advertises free at-home, rapid and PCR testing.
The Center for COVID Control and Doctors Clinical Laboratory didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Several outlets have reported complaints from people who said they’d been to a Center for COVID Control testing site.
The complaints include waiting weeks for results or getting a negative test result at the Center for COVID Control but testing positive at another site, Block Club reported. The news outlet also reported that biohazardous waste at a facility had been thrown away like normal trash and that an employee said workers had shared customer information over WhatsApp.
The Minnesota lawsuit, filed Jan. 19, alleges that Doctors Clinical Laboratory sent the state’s Department of Health COVID-19 test results that showed a positivity rate of 74% — more than 10 times the state’s rate during the same period.
Minnesota’s lawsuit also alleges that the owners of the companies may be overcharging the federal government for what it’s supposed to pay for COVID-19 tests for the uninsured. The drop-down menu for patient insurance information, the lawsuit says, didn’t contain most insurance companies actually available in Minnesota, steering employees to select the default “uninsured” option. Doctors Clinical Laboratory has billed the federal government more than $113 million for reimbursement nationwide, the lawsuit says.