The City Attorney of San Francisco has issued a summons seeking records from an unauthorized COVID-19 testing operator and laboratory suspected of trying to extort people out of money or personal information.
City Attorney David Chiu announced legal action Thursday after companies missed Monday’s deadline to provide valid licenses.
“Protecting the integrity of our COVID testing operations is critical as we grapple with a rise in COVID cases,” Chiu said in a statement. “We cannot allow rogue actors to take advantage of this Omicron boom for profit. We will get to the bottom of it and ensure that any bad actor is held accountable.”
Chiu’s office launched an investigation into Community Wellness America Inc earlier this month after several pop-up sites suggested they were offering COVID tests. Community blog Mission Local reported that a testing site drew a line near Dolores Park as the rapidly spreading Omicron variant spurred demand for rapid testing.
When asked to present the paperwork, city officials said a representative for the San Diego-based company showed an expired federal license issued to Crestview Clinical Laboratory LLC, which reportedly processes the tests.
While the tests were free, investigators believe the CWA was collecting sensitive personal information and had a profit motive, said Jane Quart, a spokeswoman for Chiu’s office.
“They were asking people for their Social Security numbers and immigration status, which are definitely red flags,” Quart said.
He said it was also not clear whether the people doing the tests had enough training and what they are doing with the information and samples they have collected.
Messages seeking comment from both companies were not returned.
The California Department of Public Health investigated CWA after hearing about unauthorized testing sites in Marin, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. The department said the company does not have a California clinical laboratory license and is therefore not allowed to conduct laboratory tests, but is allowed to collect samples to be sent to a laboratory that meets federal and state regulations.
“CDPH has regulatory authority over clinical laboratory testing, but not over the commercial practices of laboratories or collection sites,” the department said Thursday.
Public health officials in Washington state also issued a warning last April about CWA after its employees failed to use appropriate personal protective equipment at testing sites and failed to protect personal information.
The Seattle and King County Public Health Agency said that CWA employees also falsely claimed to be “with public health” and indicated in the fine print that people could be billed, even though large signs offered the tests for free. be promoted.
California public health officials said they have received consumer complaints about testing sites popping up across the state. These sites have raised questions and concerns about pricing, whether tests were done properly or whether results were reported at all.
CDPH said it has increased access to testing during the boom and is urging Californians to look for legitimate testing sites on its website.
“An insured person can get the COVID-19 test done at these sites at no cost. If you are not insured, the government pays for your test,” the department said.