ST. LOUIS — As we get deeper into the pandemic, COVID cases are up, the availability of test kits is down, and spokeswoman Sarah Wetzel of the Better Business Bureau said that’s catching the eye of some bad actors.
“Unfortunately, we’re at a place where at-home tests are so hard to find you can’t just go up to a local pharmacy and get them anymore,” she said. “People are turning to the pop-up sites. When you’re going to those sites you want to believe they’re legitimate.”
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office has received multiple complaints against a company called the Center for COVID Control, which the BBB has given an F-rating.
“I’m seeing a lot of negative ratings about people not getting their test results,” said Wetzel. “That’s concerning.”
5 On Your Side reporter Holden Kurwicki stopped by the Central West End test site to get a look at their operation, but all he found was some signage and an empty tent with spent tests on the ground.
“Any place you go to you want to make sure you do your research,” said Wetzel. “With the negative reviews that have been coming from that particular company you may want to use caution.”
The Center for COVID Control website also lists Ballpark Village as one of its testing locations.
A spokesman for Ballpark Village said they haven’t had any complaints about the company that runs their testing site.
However, when KSDK reporter Holden Kurwicki got in line at the Ballpark Village site he was given a form for Doctor’s Clinical Lab.
Upon investigating the website for Doctor’s Clinical Lab, Kurwicki was notified that his test results were pending, but he never took a COVID test.
“It’s probably a signal that there’s something illegitimate about that as a testing site,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
A site manager for the Ballpark Village test center said they were using Doctor’s Clinical Lab to process their rapid tests but were otherwise unaffiliated.
He went on to explain that they would be ceasing their relationship with Doctor’s Clinical Lab, and by extension Center for COVID Control immediately. The testing location was closed Thursday.
“Most of the time when you go to these sites, you have to provide your social security number and lots of personal information,” said Wetzel. “It makes people wonder what’s happening with that information.”
That’s a question we asked Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and while he can’t comment on active investigations, he said stories like this aren’t uncommon.
“Some are engaging in fraudulent activity such as utilizing people’s identities to try and get reimbursement from the government,” said Raoul.
A spokesperson from the City of St. Louis provided this statement: “The City of St. Louis Department of Health has made state officials and the Cardinals aware of the community's concerns to determine next steps. In the meantime, we encourage St. Louis residents to visit our website for a list of COVID-19 public testing clinics established through DOH, its community partners, and the state Department of Health and Senior Services.”