The SF City Attorney’s Office says that "unlawful, fly-by-night facilities" hawking COVID tests were allegedly operating at Dolores Park, Golden Gate Park, and elsewhere in San Francisco.
We’ll give this much credit to a company that stands accused of running bogus COVID-19 testing sites in multiple U.S. states — the appearance of their testing sites has the same generic-but-recognizable rickety tent structure, with a blue awning, and a white sign with red lettering that says “Free Covid Test” or "Free Covid Testing Site."
Mission Local noticed one of these over the weekend at 18th and Dolores streets, and the site could not produce a permit showing they were authorized to conduct the tests. When that site's reporter asked for a phone number to confirm the testing site’s legitimacy, Mission Local reports, “The number he provided for his boss went through to a Verizon automated message stating that the ‘wireless customer you are trying to reach is not available.’”
“No one is giving us trouble. No police have come by and told us we can’t be here,” said staff at the site.— Mission Local (@MLNow) January 9, 2022
They could not produce permits when asked. The company? Their Marin site was shut down last year for operating w/out a permit.
From @AnlanCheney https://t.co/ITlKr8ctpo
That company, Community Wellness America, has been similarly accused of running unpermitted testing sites in Marin County, San Diego, and Seattle. Now add San Francisco to that list, as the Chronicle reports the company stands accused of running at least two unpermitted COVID testing sites, with one in Golden Gate Park in addition to that which Mission Local looked into.
Beware pop-up testing sights. California now investigating Community Wellness America, a non-profit which claims to have done 200-k free tests (federally reimbursed) across nation. Marin County residents claim non-profit botched or lost 172 tests. No response from C.W.A. pic.twitter.com/9oRKgat2Xt— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) August 10, 2021
“San Francisco is increasingly concerned with unlawful, fly-by-night facilities claiming to offer COVID-19 tests to the public,” the City Attorney’s Office said in their cease-and-desist letter. “We have reason to believe that Community Wellness America is associated with an unlawful COVID-19 test site in San Francisco.”
That cease-and-desist letter noted that the Golden Gate Park site did produce a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) license, but it was expired, and in the name of a different company called Crestview Clinical Laboratories.
A spokesperson for Crestview Clinical Laboratories told the Chronicle, “They should be shut down immediately,” and that, “They must have used our license without our approval.”
With official San Francisco Department of Public Health COVID testing devolving from a meltdown to a complete shitshow, it’s not surprising that shyster COVID testing sites are swooping in on confused and exasperated residents. They could be trying to con people out of money, or personal information, or padding results to get government reimbursement. The Richmond Review recently reported that in August, a fake COVID testing site turned out to be a Recall Chesa Boudin petition scam, and that those “tested at the site were asked to sign a piece of paper which turned out to be a petition to recall the district attorney.”
But even with the wait times, you are better off at a city-sanctioned site or testing through your health care provider. Here is a list of city-sanctioned COVID-119 testing sites.
Image: @WayneFreedman via Twitter