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Tucson COVID testing site closing temporarily as company faces scrutiny

‘Center for COVID Control’ has one Tucson location
The Center for Covid Control, which operates one testing location in Tucson, has received criticism in other parts of the country.
Posted at 10:57 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 01:53:09-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Tucson COVID-19 testing site run by the private company ‘Center for Covid Control’ is shutting down Friday with plans to reopen on Saturday, Jan. 22, employees tell KGUN 9.

The company said Thursday in a press release posted to its website that it is closing all of its locations nationwide temporarily because of staffing issues caused by the Omicron surge.

The statement says, in part: “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 company itself is under scrutiny and under investigation in other states—as people say their test results were either delayed or not delivered at all.

Margo Belval says she and her husband shared that experience at the Tucson location in mid-December after they were exposed to COVID-19.

“Everything seemed to be full for several days and I was getting kind of frustrated,” Belval said of her search for a PCR test in Tucson.

She then discovered the Center for Covid Control site on E. Speedway Boulevard, just east of Kolb Road, which offered free walk-up testing at the time. The Omicron surge has since forced the site to take appointments only.

“I was expecting to see kind of a clinic-y type of atmosphere, and it wasn’t,” Belval said.

She claims a receptionist with a loose-fitting mask took pictures of both sides of their ID’s and took their email addresses.

“The receptionist was also the technician,” she said. “So she took us into this little side room which was equally as bizarre. Not tidy or anything.”

Belval says she and her husband were then told a PCR test backlog would delay results and a rapid test was the best option. She says they were handed swabs and told to do it themselves, then told they’d get their results by email in about 15 minutes.

They each later got a confirmation email — but Belval says they never got their test results.

“The whole time I was in there I was going, ‘Something doesn’t feel right,’” she recalled.

Belval left a one-star review with the Better Business Bureau, and she wasn’t the only one. Negative online reviews have come in about some of the Center for Covid Control’s other locations across the country.

The BBB has since given the company an ‘F’ rating. It’s now being investigated by Better Business Bureaus in multiple states, but not Arizona.

We started looking into the company, which is based in Illinois.

The company’s website says it offers free rapid tests and PCR tests at more than 275 locations nationwide, including four in the Phoenix area and the one location in Tucson.

State and Pima County health officials tell us sites doing rapid tests must have a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, or CLIA, license.

A database search found the ‘Center for Covid Control’ has a CLIA number based in Wisconsin.

When KGUN 9 called the company’s phone number listed online, the operator said the company partners with Doctors Clinical Laboratory, which is also based in Illinois and also has a CLIA number.

But the Arizona Department of Health Services tells KGUN that providers must report test results to them under an executive order, unless the specimens are sent to another site.

ADHS says they don’t receive any results from the names ‘Center for Covid Control’ or ‘Doctors Clinical Laboratory.’

KGUN 9 visited the Tucson site this to ask if employees could present their CLIA license or answer questions.

The facility manager told KGUN that the Tucson location is not seeing the issues other locations are. Further questions were then directed to a press email address, which did not respond to multiple messages.

A person answering the company’s main phone number could not confirm a CLIA number or direct the call to Doctors Clinical Laboratory.

When asked for a response to criticism, the person on the other end hung up.

A call to the number listed on the Doctors Clinical Laboratory went to the same recorded message heard on the Center for Covid Control’s main number.

KGUN 9 is not aware of any current investigations in Arizona into the Center for Covid Control.

Messages to the state Attorney General’s office and the Southern Arizona Better Business Bureau were not returned.

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