COVID-19 test chain did provide results in Illinois, but not in Minnesota, officials say
Unlike its Minnesota counterpart, the Illinois Department of Public Health has received COVID-19 test results from a suburban company accused of mishandling crucial virus data, officials said Monday.
That wasn't the case for the Minnesota Department of Health, where a red flag was raised in December when administrators realized they'd never gotten any test results from Doctors Clinical Laboratory, authorities said.
Minnesota Attorney General Kevin Ellison has sued the lab and the affiliated Center for COVID Control, which runs a chain of pop-up clinics, claiming multiple residents received false or inaccurate test results or never heard back. Both are headquartered in Rolling Meadows at the same address.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has opened an investigation into the Center for COVID Control and said he had told the company to “stop engaging in any fraudulent or deceptive conduct.”
Asked if the lab had provided test data to IDPH and if any irregularities had occurred, spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said, “IDPH has received COVID-19 laboratory results from Doctors Clinical Laboratory.”
The Center for COVID Control, which owns over 300 clinics nationwide, suspended operations on Jan. 13 after customer complaints prompted state scrutiny.
“CCC remains committed to providing the highest level of customer service and diagnostic quality and will not resume collection of patient samples until staffing resources permit CCC to operate at full capacity,” its website says.
“CCC is using this operational pause to train additional staff on sample collection and handling, customer service and communications best practices, as well as compliance with regulatory guidelines. CCC will provide an update on reopening plans when appropriate.”
Meanwhile, USA Today reported the FBI had searched the Center for COVID Control's offices Saturday.
Chicago FBI office spokeswoman Siobhan Johnson on Monday said only that “the FBI was conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in Rolling Meadows. Department of Justice policy prevents the FBI from commenting on the nature of any investigations that may or may not be occurring.”
Raoul announced Thursday his office began investigating the Center for COVID Control after complaints that test results came late or not at all, people who were never tested receivied results, and the staff didn't wear face masks.
On Monday, Raoul spokeswoman Annie Thompson said Raoul is “is absolutely committed to protecting residents from those who attempt to profit off the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. We are working with the FBI and other law enforcement partners and will not comment on ongoing investigations as we work to hold accountable individuals who engage in unlawful conduct.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison's lawsuit claims former employees reported the company couldn't keep up with demand as it expanded. That caused chaos, Ellison said, with some test samples being chucked into garbage bags or neglected for over 48 hours.
The workers also described being told to falsify dates of tests and deceive consumers about results, according to Ellison. Other concerns were that he staff sometimes announced rapid test results out loud in front of other customers, “without regard to privacy,” the complaint stated.
The Minnesota Department of Health told prosecutors it received data only after repeated requests and some results were odd, such as a positivity rate 10 times the state average.
Officials with Center for COVID Control and Doctors Clinical Laboratory did not return requests for comment. A spokesman for the Minnesota Judicial Branch said the companies have not hired defense attorneys and are representing themselves as of Monday.