Center for Covid Control facing lawsuit from Minnesota AG

Published: January 20, 2022 5:36 PM EST
Updated: January 21, 2022 11:37 AM EST

The company that has been at the center of an investigation by WINK News is now facing a lawsuit in another state. Since WINK News began investigating, multiple states have opened investigations into the Center for Covid Control.

The Center for Covid Control boasts 275 testing sites across the country.

A 25-page lawsuit by the Minnesota attorney general filed against the Center for Covid Control used the words misleading, deceptive, and fraudulent.

Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison said, “this is new. This is unprecedented.”

WINK News spoke with Jeff Connelly, the Director of Operations at Eliza Medical, specializing in medical testing.

Connelly said, “the first impression was, the scope of it, how large it was, to be honest with you. This was on a much wider scale than I’ve ever seen or heard.”

Connelly said it is the largest accusation of fraud he’s ever seen against a testing company.

The Illinois-based company is accused of collecting samples for COVID-19 testing and delivering test results that were inaccurate.

In addition to Minnesota’s lawsuit, Colorado ordered the Center for Covid Control to cease operations.

“There are people out there who have used these sites, and my first response is ‘I am so sorry,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts are also investigating the Center for Covid Control

A person tested at a Center for Covid Control site in Massachusetts said, “it certainly didn’t look like anything that I want to go in to get tested. It was just very… I wouldn’t say dirty. I think it just didn’t look like there was a lot of protocols in place.”

Another person tested at a site in Seattle, Washington, said, “the guy giving me my test was wearing just like a hoodie and jeans and sneakers. And his mask, I’m going to be honest with you, not on his nose half the time.”

The observations are similar to what WINK News found during its investigation of the Center for Covid Control sites in Southwest Florida.

WINK News spoke with some people in line at the Bonita Springs location who got test results before taking the test, something the Center for Covid Control blamed on a computer glitch. WINK News also learned that the guy handing out the testing had no training.

WINK News Reporter Michael Hudak asked, “you don’t know the name of the company that you just work for right now?”

Tyler Blackwell, the man administering the tests in Bonita Springs, said, “all I can tell you is that the man that should be able to answer all the questions should be back anytime.”

Blackwell looked the part but told WINK News that he is not a registered nurse. He said he was able to buy scrubs at a major retailer, just like anyone else can.

The Center for Covid Control still has time before it must respond to the lawsuit in Minnesota.

The Center for Covid Control paused all operations across the country on Jan. 14.

The company said in an email that the shutdown happened so they could retrain management and staff and roll out new procedures. The email promised the sites will re-open this Saturday, Jan. 22.

It is unknown if the three Southwest Florida locations will be re-opening.

WINK News has tried to contact someone from the Center for Covid Control to provide a comment for this story but has not heard back.

Dr. Lee Fleisher, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Center for Clinical Standards and Quality for the government agency, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a statement:

“We take seriously any allegations of fraud or misbehavior by COVID-19 testing sites. CMS’s Center for Clinical Standards and Quality investigates these kinds of complaints and is aware of several alleged instances of misconduct by this company’s labs. We know that people want to feel confident that the testing sites they visit are reputable and the results they receive are accurate.

CMS is actively investigating numerous complaints about multiple laboratories and testing sites associated with the Center for COVID Control. It is our understanding that the Center for COVID Control voluntarily suspended their operations through January 22. CMS continues our investigations and will take compliance and enforcement actions as appropriate.”

Consumers may access the CMS CLIA Laboratory Demographic Information Tool then navigate to the S&C’s Quality, Certification and Oversight Reports (QCOR) to find a CLIA certified laboratory. You can search by laboratory name or geography (e.g., California). This website provides a listing of CLIA laboratories and other facilities that are certified to perform laboratory testing as of the Data Source Date listed.