- The Washington AG sued a coronavirus testing company saying it sent patients invalid test results.
- “These sham testing centers threatened the health and safety of our communities,” AG Robert Ferguson said.
- The company has closed all testing locations nationwide “until further notice,” according to the website.
The state of Washington is suing the owners of a coronavirus testing company, accusing them of providing people “invalid, false, and delayed” coronavirus test results.
Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the Center for Covid Control and its owners Akbar Syed and Aleya Siyaj in the King County Superior Court on Monday.
In the 14-page suit, Ferguson claimed the Illinois-based company, which operated about 300 testing site locations nationwide, “threatened the health and safety” of Washington residents by “providing invalid COVID-19 test results or no results at all.”
“Center for COVID Control contributed to the spread of COVID-19 when it provided false negative results,” Ferguson said in a press release. “These sham testing centers threatened the health and safety of our communities. They must be held accountable.”
Former employees of the company’s testing lab, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, reported that the lab was unable to process the volume of tests it received — between 8,000 to 10,000 tests per day — and “engaged in practices that resulted in consumers receiving false negative test results,” according to the complaint.
“These practices included storing tests in garbage bags strewn about its facility for over a week rather than properly refrigerating them, and backdating sample collection dates so that stale samples would still be processed,” the lawsuit said.
According to the news release, the company’s director of operations told employees to falsely post-date samples to make them appear as if they were recently collected and still send them in for analysis so the company could likely bill the government or patients’ insurance companies for the tests.
“I had been uneasy for nearly all of my short tenure at [Center for COVID Control], but as trash bags of tests piled up and my team was instructed to lie to patients on a daily basis, I had had enough,” one former Illinois-based employee told authorities, per the press release. “I first requested a demotion from my shift lead position, and, shortly after that, I quit.”
The company operated 13 testing sites in Washington, but the company did not have a license to operate a business in any municipalities in the state except for Yakima. As of January 13, all of the testing sites in the state are closed.
Center for COVID Control said in a statement on their website that all locations are “closed until further notice” and asked to report any locations that are “conducting business under the Center for Covid Control.”
“As previously announced, 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,” according to the company’s release.
The Washington attorney general’s lawsuit asked the court to order Center for COVID Control to cease operations, pay civil penalties of up to $12,500 per violation, and relinquish any profits made by the company during its operation, according to the news release.
Representatives from the Center for COVID Control did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.