FBI reportedly joins probes into COVID-19 test complaints on suburbs-based chain

A pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic in the south suburbs is now closed, but it was never listed as one of the Illinois Department of Public Health's approved testing sites and state officials are warning residents to be wary about any unapproved sites.

Investigations into claims of mishandled COVID-19 test results are intensifying with reports of an FBI search Saturday at the Center for COVID Control, a chain of clinics headquartered in Rolling Meadows.

The company, which has multiple pop-up clinics across the suburbs and over 300 nationwide, suspended operations on Jan. 13 amid customer complaints and scrutiny by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Ellison filed a lawsuit last week accusing the Center for COVID Control of deceiving consumers.

Asked about the search reported by USA Today, FBI spokeswoman Siobhan Johnson said Monday “the FBI was conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in Rolling Meadows. Department of Justice policy prevents the FBI from commenting on the nature of any investigations that may or may not be occurring.”

Officials with Center for COVID Control posted a statement on their website noting “CCC remains committed to providing the highest level of customer service and diagnostic quality and will not resume collection of patient samples until staffing resources permit CCC to operate at full capacity.

“CCC is using this operational pause to train additional staff on sample collection and handling, customer service and communications best practices, as well as compliance with regulatory guidelines. CCC will provide an update on reopening plans when appropriate.”

Raoul announced Thursday his office began investigating CCC after complaints from residents about test results coming late or not at all, people who were never tested receiving results, and the staff not properly wearing face masks.

The Minnesota attorney general’s lawsuit claims former employees reported the company couldn’t keep up with demand as it expanded testing sites. That caused “chaos,” one said, with some test samples being chucked into garbage bags or neglected for over 48 hours.

Employees also stated they were requested to falsify dates of tests and deceive consumers about results, Ellison said.

On Monday, Raoul spokeswoman Annie Thompson said Raoul is “is absolutely committed to protecting residents from those who attempt to profit off the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. We are working with the FBI and other law enforcement partners and will not comment on ongoing investigations as we work to hold accountable individuals who engage in unlawful conduct.”