COVID

Public health officials order Illinois COVID-19 testing center to stop operating in Massachusetts

Massachusetts public health officials are demanding an embattled Illinois COVID-19 testing company stop offering testing in its three Bay State locations. 

The state delivered cease and desist letters to the company after complaints were lodged against The Center for COVID Control due to “lengthy turnaround times for results,” according to WCVB.

The company has more than 275 locations across the nation, including Needham, North Dartmouth, and Worcester. Its website boasts free rapid and PCR COVID-19 testing with no appointments needed. The company says its rapid test “detects omicron,” is “highly effective,” and delivers “results by the end of day.”

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The complaints, which are under review, were sent to the Department of Public Health and the Office of the Attorney General, WCVB reported. The DPH said the company’s Massachusetts locations offered tests without the proper state permits and registration. 

Massachusetts wasn’t the only state to get complaints about the company’s performance — Washington also shut down some of the testing sites there. Now, the Oregon Department of Justice is also investigating the company on suspicion of Unfair Trade Practices Act violations, USA Today reported.

In the wake of the fallout, the company on Thursday announced a pause on the collection of patient specimens, effective Friday, Jan. 14, with plans to reopen on Jan. 22. 

“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,” the center’s founder and CEO Aleya Siyaj said in a press release. 

Company officials pointed to its rapid growth and the recent demand for COVID-19 testing as the reason why it’s been unable to meet all commitments.

But an internal company memo obtained by USA Today told location owners and managers that the pause was due to “increased scrutiny by the media into the operations of our collection sites” over the past week. 

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The center processes 80,000 test requests per day.

The center’s linked Twitter account was suspended as of Thursday night. 

The DPH urged Massachusetts residents to avoid the center and said residents can use the state’s Mass.gov website to find reliable COVID testing locations.

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