A new Mountain View clinic advertising swift COVID-19 tests without an appointment is currently in hot water following numerous complaints that it's failing to deliver on its promises and may not be a legitimate testing site.
The clinic, run by the Center for Covid Control, opened up last month near the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real, and has been a popular place for people looking for a fast test. Throughout the day, the clinic has had a long line stretching down the block.
Online reviewers have posted warnings to stay away, saying that they've been waiting more than week to get their test results. Others say they received a negative test, only to get subsequent tests showing they were positive. Many more reported that the line outside hadn't moved in hours and they simply gave up and left.
As of Jan. 12, the Mountain View Police Department actively investigated the clinic and plans to review the case with other law enforcement agencies for possible enforcement action, according to Mountain View spokesperson Lenka Wright. She said the Center for Covid Control does not have a license to operate in Mountain View, and that several regulatory agencies may need to get involved to determine whether the clinic is operating legally.
"Based on resident complaints received, the City of Mountain View is continuing to investigate whether there are any concerns with this business that would fall under our purview," Wright said. "The Mountain View Police Department has reached out to local, county and state level agencies that might be involved in investigations involving potential fraud activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office confirmed it has been in touch with the police department regarding the center.
The Center for Covid Control boasts operation of hundreds of clinics across the country that can provide rapid test results with no appointments and no health insurance requirements. In a statement Thursday, Jan. 13, the company said it has ramped up its testing by an order of magnitude — from 8,000 per day to 80,000 — and has been overwhelmed by the surge in demand due to the omicron variant.
The statement added that the massive increase has "affected our usual customer service standards and diagnostic goals," and that it planned to temporarily suspend testing as of Friday, Jan. 14, with plans to reopen on Saturday, Jan. 22.
"Center for Covid Control is committed to serving our patients in the safest, most accurate and most compliant manner," Aleja Siyaj, the company's CEO, said in a statement. "Regrettably, due to our rapid growth and the unprecedented recent demand for testing, we haven't been able to meet all our commitments."
The company called the suspension a "temporary pause" to verify that all the collection sites are meeting high standards for quality.
Over the last week, the Center for Covid Control has been in hot water for its allegedly shoddy operations, with the Oregon Department of Justice launching an investigation into its practices. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also taken action, ordering the company to cease testing statewide for operating without a license.
The company's website has limited information about how it runs its testing sites, and its Twitter account has been suspended for violating the social media website's rules.
The Thursday statement by the Center for Covid Control only mentions the investigations in passing, and that it is "responding to queries from several public health and regulatory agencies."
Santa Clara County officials encouraged residents who suspect any illegal testing site operations to contact local law enforcement, and that the California Department of Public Health outlines requirements for testing sites and details the complaint process for laboratories.