RI’s Center for COVID Control test sites grab attention

New storefronts in Smithfield and West Warwick claiming to offer free COVID-19 testing are part of a nationwide network accused of failing to provide test results, providing incorrect diagnoses and being a ‘scam’ designed to collect people’s personal information.

The so-called “Center for COVID Control” has drawn complaints in several states and is now under close scrutiny by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The chain’s two Rhode Island locations are located at 1745 Main Street, in the Crompton section of West Warwick, near Family Dollar, and at 9 Cedar Swamp Rd. In Smithfield, behind the Apple Valley Mall.

When a Providence Journal reporter stopped between 11 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, both sites had posted hand-made signs saying they were closed, although they had indicated online that they were open.

Calls to the listed phone numbers for test facilities were not returned and the signs gave no indication of when they would reopen.

Complaints about COVID testing sites

This appears to be a common occurrence, based on negative online reviews from both test sites.

“People stood in line for 2 hours hoping they would be there,” wrote a Google reviewer after trying several times but failing to get tested at the West Warwick site during his hours declared operating conditions. “I feel like this is a scam.”

“I arrived at 8:30 am today with about 20 other people, it was under 32F outside,” wrote another who visited the Smithfield site. “We all waited outside from 8:55 am to 9:30 am when we all decided to leave because no one showed up.”

Signs placed outside the "COVID Control Center" West Warwick site announces its closure.

Others said they managed to get tested, but the company never sent them the results.

“I took a quick test and was told it would be emailed within 30 minutes on 5/1,” said a review of the West Warwick site. “I never got my results and now I don’t know if I got it or not.”

What is the COVID Control Center?

The Center for COVID Control claims to operate more than 300 sites in 29 states. As USA TODAY reported last week, many candidates nationwide have raised concerns about the company, saying its testing sites do not appear to be professionally managed or follow protocols. basic health.

A Minnesota woman felt uncomfortable enough to take a second test at a different location, which came back positive, while her Center for COVID Control test was negative. Likewise, a Michigan man learned his rapid test was positive while still at the site, but then received an email later that day saying he was negative.

Authorities in several states have warned people to watch out for fraudulent COVID testing sites that may attempt to obtain their personal information, USA TODAY reported.

The Rhode Island Department of Health is “aware of concerns about these sites’ compliance with regulatory requirements for testing sites,” spokesman Joseph Wendelken wrote in an email. “We have dispatched inspectors and our legal and regulatory teams are currently reviewing.”

COVID-19 tests? Questionable sites shine a light on a country’s thirst for rapid testing

The West Warwick location of the Center for COVID Control is near Family Dollar in a Crompton mall.

How to find authorized COVID tests

The Center for COVID Control did not submit results to state health officials, Wendelken said.

People seeking to get tested for COVID should use the state’s online test locator, found at covid.ri.gov/testing, “or look for a test at a trusted health facility, such as a pharmacy,” Wendelken said.

The state also maintains a regularly updated list of clinics and pharmacies that offer COVID testing, and publishes a weekly list of community clinics that take place in churches, libraries and other non-traditional locations.

The Rhode Island Attorney General is “aware of concerns about unauthorized testing locations and we are looking into them,” spokeswoman Kristy dosReis said.

Residents of Rhode Island who have questions or wish to file a complaint are urged to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (401) 274-4400 or send an email to [email protected] .gov.