January 27, 2023

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Covid Live Updates: News of Vaccine and Mask Authorization

Covid Live Updates: News of Vaccine and Mask Authorization
credit…Alan Jung / USA Today Network

With the increase in the number of cases fueled by the Omicron variant, came a higher demand for coronavirus tests — and right behind it, an increase in fraud accusations and warnings to American consumers about scammed coronavirus testing sites.

“Across California, fake testing sites are proliferating to exploit families and individuals seeking to get tested for Covid,” said Rob Ponta, California attorney general, He said in a statement Last month.

Prosecutors in New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Florida, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Colorado and Washington have closed or sued testing sites in recent weeks.

The only thing that illegal test site operators might go after is patients’ personal information, such as credit card numbers, driver’s license data and Social Security numbers, which can then be used for identity theft or unwanted online purchases. They might try to charge governments for tests they claim were given to uninsured people, or charge consumers for tests that were supposed to be free, and then provide made-up results or nothing at all.

“It is important for people to know that these sites are not authorized or regulated by a government agency, and they should ask questions before visiting a pop-up test site — or trying to use a state-sponsored test site,” Kwame Raoul, the Illinois attorney general, said. Advised in a statement in January.

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The Federal Trade Commission website provides Tips on how to avoid scams from fake test sites. The committee recommends that people seeking testing get a referral from a health care provider, rather than trusting any site they come across. Another tip is to check if a site is listed on the local health department’s website. Consumers can also ask the local police department or the mayor’s office, which should know about all of the locally approved legitimate testing sites.

Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General recommend Beware of any testing site that requests financial or medical information for a free test.

One high-profile case of the accusations of fraud involves a Chicago-based company, the Covid Control Center, which has opened about 300 pop-up sites across the country and Collected up to 10,000 samples per day. The FBI and other federal agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are investigating the company and its partner laboratory, Clinical Physicians Laboratory, following complaints from former employees and members of the public.

The company and laboratory are also being investigated by prosecutors in a number of states, including IllinoisOregon WashingtonArizona Minnesota and Massachusetts.

Illinois Attorney General, Mr. Raoul, wrote in a statement Complaints about the company have ranged “from test results being delayed or not received at all, to results being given to individuals who never had a test, to tests being improperly stored, and employees improperly using personal protective equipment and face masks.”

The Center for Covid Control announced in late January that all of its testing sites would be closed until further notice. The company said in a brief statement posted on its website that it will provide additional training to its employees on sample collection, customer service and compliance with regulatory guidelines. The statement did not directly address the accusations against the company, and the site is no longer operational.

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Representatives of the Center for Covid Control did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment for this article.

Attorney General Keith Ellison of Minnesota File a lawsuit against the company and the laboratory On January 19, accusing them of “deceiving consumers”. In a press releaseEllison cited accusations from former employees that test samples were improperly stored and neglected for several days, and that managers instructed them to falsify sample receipt dates and lie to patients about results, saying they were negative or inconclusive when the samples had in fact not been I cut. been tested.

A suit brought by the Attorney General of Washington, Bob Ferguson, The company is accused of fraudulently billing the federal government more than $124 million to screen supposedly uninsured patients, many of whom have health insurance.

“The Center for Control of Covid contributed to the spread of Covid-19 by providing false negative results,” Mr. Ferguson said in a statement. “These bogus test centers threaten the health and safety of our communities.”