Fraudulent Covid-19 Testing Sites Raise the Question: Am I Actually Covid Free?

The recently shut down Center for Covid Control testing site in Johnson Creek. The COVID-19 testing hut is in the middle of the Johnson Creek Market parking lot next to the Hot Bikini Brew. Photo by Maya Bryant

On Jan. 22, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigations raided the Center for Covid Control (CCC), following concerns around the United States about COVID-19 testing site schemes. 

The CCC, an Illinois-based company, had been privately operating 300 COVID-19 testing sites around the country, with three in Portland and two in Salem. 

Aleya Siyaj, CEO of the CCC, opened the private company in December and previously founded BullsEye Axe Lounge, an axe throwing lounge with a party atmosphere, according to LinkedIn. 

Siyaj’s LinkedIn profile does not connect her to the CCC. Based on an article from Newsweek published on Jan. 13, her LinkedIn previously did.

The widely recognized company announced their indefinite pause on operations to start January 14, 2022 just two days after the Oregon Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, released a statement to the press saying, “[We are] working with OHA [Oregon Health Authority] to ensure testing sites are in compliance with state laws…” This statement was part of a confirmation of the investigation into the CCC.

Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Minnesota have, along with the Oregon Attorney General, filed civil investigations into the CCC. 

The CCC website describes the shut down as a way to “…train additional staff on sample collection and handling, customer service and communications best practices, as well as compliance with regulatory guidelines.”

The Center for Covid Control did not respond to a request from The Franklin Post for a statement. 

Kristina Edmunson, the Communications Director with the Department of Justice (DOJ), wrote in an email that “the Oregon Department of Justice has an ongoing civil investigation into the Center for Covid Control for violations of Oregon’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.”

In a briefing from the Oregon Legislature, it is stated that the Oregon Unfair Trade Practices Act is “…one tool consumers can use to recover damages that occur as a result of deceptive sales or business practices.”

The investigations were initiated when a woman reported not receiving her COVID-19 results from a CCC testing pop-up site and later becoming suspicious of a scam. 

Members of the Franklin High School community have fallen victim to the CCC pop-up sites as well. 

David Jaynes, Girls Varsity Basketball Head Coach at Franklin High School, received a COVID-19 test from CCC himself. “I had a couple players [on the Girls Basketball Team] test positive for COVID and I wanted to get a quick test and provide testing opportunities to the players,” he said.

Jaynes got his COVID-19 test at the Johnson Creek location. “You had to wait in one line to get the tests, and then you went back to your car and took the test yourself, and then you had to turn the results into the guy in a ‘hut.’ That was kind of it, I didn’t think anything of it,” said Jaynes. 

Jaynes returned to this CCC pop-up once more and referred multiple players on the team to the site because of the availability of appointments and quick process. 

Jaynes has received other tests outside of the CCC pop-up sites. “I think it was a lot more professionally done [at the non-CCC sites]” said Jaynes. “It was kind of janky at the CCC.”

Jaynes continued, “The people at the other sites were in hazmat suits and wearing gloves [unlike at the CCC site]. They had a whole procedure on how you did it and they administered the test for you.”

Nell Rafalovich is the Providence Virtual Sick Clinic Medical Director. Rafalovich explains how Providence avoids taking part in suspicious COVID-19 testing practices: “There is no room for interpretation and everything is very streamlined. It is due to these strict guidelines that we have implemented that make any deviations obvious and easily brought to our attention for immediate correction.” 

“When we heard the news about fraudulent testing sites, we were appalled,” wrote an Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) spokesperson. “Not only is such fraud illegal, it is also immoral and unethical.”

People are seeking trust in systems to keep their communities safe. Fraudulent sites like this one discourage communities from getting tested, which makes COVID-19 statistics an inaccurate portrayal of who actually has COVID-19.

The OHSU spokesperson said, “Fortunately, OHSU and other recognizable health care providers will continue to provide authorized, reliable COVID tests for the community.” The OHSU website is a place to find accurate information on COVID-19 testing. 

The OHSU spokesperson addresses how a COVID-19 test site is deemed legitimate, such as the ones provided by OHSU. “All testing sites in Oregon must have a CLIA certificate, have notified Oregon CLIA that they are functioning as a testing site in Oregon, and are required to report to the Oregon Health Authority or local public health authorities.”

CLIA stands for, “Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments,” and it is unknown if the CCC retains or retained one. 

The OHSU spokesperson concluded, “When information is quickly evolving and the stakes are high for people’s personal health and well being, it is essential that community members have access to trustworthy information and procedures.”

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