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'Center for Covid Control' testing sites pausing operations for staff training and education

At home covid test
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 07:16:49-05

(WXYZ) — A COVID-19 testing center with sites across the country and right here in metro Detroit is shutting down temporarily after a host of complaints.

The news comes as this fourth surge in COVID cases has driven up the demand for testing.

The Better Business Bureau has been looking into a COVID-19 testing company with pop-up sites around the U.S.

“The ‘Center for Covid Control’ is showing up as tenants in formerly vacant real estate spaces. They’re really just coming out of the woodwork,” said Melanie Duquesnel, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan and the U.P.

Duquesnel explained that there are at least eleven 'Center for Covid Control' (or CCC) sites that have opened in southeast Michigan and several hundred more across the country.

“I know for a fact [sites in] St. Louis, Oregon, South Carolina, are definitely - and Chicago - are definitely being looked at very hard,” she says.

The BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois told Alicia Smith it’s been “actively looking into an influx of multiple complaints in many states regarding this ‘F-rated’ business” with the company unresponsive to the BBB’s inquiries about complaints — complaints such as “not getting test results”, paying “money for expedited results but not getting results" and “not responding to customers with questions” and so on.

Here is their full statement:

BBB is actively looking into an influx of multiple complaints in many states that have been coming in regarding this "F-rated" business. The company has been unresponsive to the BBB inquiring about the complaints.

Center for Covid Control has the lowest grade the BBB can give a business as well as the lowest customer review rating. As complaints continue to come in...Consumers allege...

A) They are not getting test results

B) Some have paid money for expedited results but they are not getting results

C) The company is not responding to customers with questions or inquiring about their test results

C) They are asking for a lot of personal information

D) They have received incorrect test results.

So, Alicia Smith decided to check out one of the locations near Five Mile and Merriman in Livonia Thursday, January 14.

The location was closed even though it was after it's opening time of 9:00am.

Through the window, Smith could see a light on in the very back, but there was not activity inside.

It looked almost abandoned.

A big sign was taped to the inside of the window reading: "'Center for Covid Control' - FREE COVID-19 TESTING - No appointment required - No insurance Needed."

No chairs were in the lobby —just a lone social distancing decal on the floor.

While our crew was there, Julie Adams drove up to see the site closed.

Adams said she was a returning client who'd had a decent experience both times she’d been there.

She recalled that there was only one person behind the counter. That person directed her to a QR code.

“You would put in your information, upload your license, and they would have you self-administer the test, and you’d get the results in 10 minutes,” Adams remembered.

Monica Ingles - owner of Sorella's Custom Cakes next door - said the site has been closed for about 4 days.

“It’s been approximately a month since they kind of moved in. It was kind of sketchy all along,” Ingles said.

“We just came in one morning, and there were people standing outside – I’m not joking – in bathrobes. And those were people working there!” Ingles recalled. “Nothing about it seemed remotely professional or organized.”

The BBB has visited other storefront locations in Warren and Dearborn, plus a hard-to-find fourth-floor office site in downtown Detroit at 220 W. Jefferson.

Then late Thursday afternoon, Smith received a News Release from the Illinois-based company in question: “Center for COVID Control’ to pause operations for additional staff training and education” – stating ‘certain Center for COVID Control (or CCC) locations are experiencing high demand for testing due to the omicron variant surge. This unusually high patient demand has stressed staffing resources, as has been widely reported, in a subset of our locations, affecting our usual customer service standards and diagnostic goals.”

The release explained that the company “will temporarily pause further collection of patient specimens effective Friday, January 14th with plans to reopen Saturday, January 22nd.

The founder and CEO stating, in part, “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 CEO went on to explain that a key contributing factor to CCC’s present challenges is the rapid spread of the omicron variant within their own ranks and the number of COVID-19 tests increasing from 8,000 a day nationwide to more than 80,000 a day.

But he also apologized for recent customer inconveniences and a loss of confidence, explaining that the employee training and management enhancements are intended to refocus staff.

The news release explained the results from tests collected Thursday, January 13th will be carefully processed by Friday, January 14th -- and results will be provided in a timely fashion.

Here is a statement from the Michigan Attorney General's office:

We are aware of recent media reports regarding the Center for Covid Control. We have received a very small number of consumer complaints and inquiries regarding this company.

At this time, we do not know enough about this business to comment about its practices.

We have been communicating with our partners at the BBB and urge consumers who have experiences like those detailed in recent reports to alert their local health department and to file a complaint with our Consumer Protection team. Since concerns about Covid testing locations may implicate both public health and consumer protection, the Attorney General is committed to ensuring priority attention is given to these complaints. We cannot, however, comment on ongoing investigations.

We urge consumers to do their homework before choosing Covid testing locations. Talk with your health care professional, or visit MDHHS' website to find approved test sites where testing is provided without cost. Research companies that provide testing just like you would research any other company selling a good or service—check the BBB and other sources of online reviews.

Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General's website, or by calling 877-765-8388.  If you see something suspicious, you can also report it here: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker