Lawsuit accuses COVID-19 testing company of faking results

OLYMPIA — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against an Illinois-based COVID-19 testing company, accusing it of improperly handling tests and providing fake results.

The lawsuit announced Monday and filed in King County Superior Court said the Center for COVID Control “failed to deliver prompt, valid and accurate results,” made deceptive promises of results within 48 hours, and reportedly instructed its employees to “lie to patients on a daily basis,” The Seattle Times reported.

It describes how the company expanded to about 300 locations throughout the United States and collected tens of thousands of tests a day.

“Center for COVID Control contributed to the spread of COVID-19 when it provided false negative results,” Ferguson said in a statement. “These sham testing centers threatened the health and safety of our communities. They must be held accountable.”

The lawsuit also said the Center for COVID Control stored tests in garbage bags — rather than properly refrigerating them — backdated sample-collection dates so stale samples would still be processed and instructed its employees to lie when Washington residents asked about delayed results.

The Center for COVID Control did not respond to a request for comment Monday from the newspaper or from The Associated Press. All of its locations are closed “until further notice,” according to its website.

The company said in a news release on the website that it was using “this operational pause to train additional staff.”

The Center for COVID Control sites had been operating in Washington state since October and was increasingly popular particularly after the rapid spread of the omicron variant prompted a rise in demand for tests.

Locations in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Lakewood, University Place, Auburn, Lynnwood, Everett, Port Orchard and Yakima in Washington promised free test results within 15 minutes for a rapid test and within 48 hours for a more sensitive PCR test.

But recently, customers throughout the country have been complaining about the center’s delayed or lack of results, leading health authorities in several states, including California and Illinois, to launch investigations.

City officials in In Lakewood issued a stop-work order at their local site in mid-January after receiving complaints about the company and finding it was operating without a business license, “among other concerns,” the city said.

The company didn’t have a license to operate a business in any Washington cities except Yakima, according to the attorney general’s office.

Ferguson’s office plans to file a motion for preliminary injunction “soon to immediately stop the Center for COVID Control’s unlawful conduct,” his statement said.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the Center for COVID Control to pay civil penalties of up to $12,500 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act and relinquish any profits the company made from its “unlawful conduct,” in addition to permanently closing all locations, the statement said.

More in News

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they offload equipment from the ferry MV Coho after its return to Port Angeles from annual dry dock maintenance in Anacortes on Wednesday. The ferry is scheduled to resume regular service between Port Angeles and Victoria today. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Preparing for service

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they… Continue reading

Dr. Suzanne Ames.
Peninsula College adapting to next generation of students

Aim is to engage, meet workforce needs

Officials: Combine Simdars, Johnson Creek road projects

Clallam County, Sequim, tribe urge coordination

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound Express, is the first vessel to take advantage of the early reopening of the Point Hudson Marina on Wednesday after four months of closure to rebuild its north jetty. The marina will close again after the Wooden Boat Festival ends Sept. 10, when rebuilding the south jetty will start with a scheduled re-opening in March 2024. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Point Hudson marina reopens

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound… Continue reading

Amy Miller has been appointed to a seat on the Port Angeles City Council to fill a seat vacated by Mike French, who resigned to become a Clallam County commissioner. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Amy Miller tapped for Port Angeles City Council

Appointee fills seat vacated by Mike French

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards, will be back in service Thursday. Yearly maintenance began Jan. 3. The maintenance is taking a few days longer due to COVID-19 the past two years, Black Ball Ferry Line officials have said. The ship returns to twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Coho maintenance

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards,… Continue reading

East Jefferson Fire Rescue town halls focus on lid lift

Ballot measure to go before voters on Feb. 14

Planning work priorities to be discussed

Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners and its Planning… Continue reading

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim Lawson devote their Sunday to trimming and pruning the Blue Heron orchard at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, to promote growth and health of the fruit trees, some of which were planted in 2010. The fruit goes to the school and is available to students. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Pruning fruit trees

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim… Continue reading

Most Read