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January 26, 2022

Authorities warn of ‘potentially fraudulent’ Covid-19 testing sites

Unlicensed pop-up location cited by Hollister officials

Recent “pop-up” Covid-19 testing sites in San Benito County and elsewhere in California may be fraudulent, and authorities are warning the public.

The county’s Public Health Services sent out a press release Jan. 13 stating its staff has been made aware of the temporary testing sites that “have generated many questions and concerns.”

These sites include the on-site performance of diagnostic tests without appropriate state laboratory licensure and other issues that may cause incorrect test results, says the press release.

One of the local suspicious pop-up sites was located in the former Kmart parking lot this week, according to a Jan. 13 post on the Hollister Police Department Facebook page. The group hosting the site was not licensed to conduct Covid-19 testing in California, and is connected to an out-of-state company.

The pop-up host is not affiliated with the local health department and does not have a business license in Hollister, police said. Police department staff observed the testing personnel collecting samples without wearing personal protection equipment, among other practices that could result in cross-contamination.

“San Benito County Public Health Services takes these concerns very seriously and seeks to address all issues within its jurisdiction over clinical and public health laboratory testing and operations,” says the county’s press release.

County officials do not have jurisdiction over pop-up test sites where patient specimens are collected and sent off site for lab testing, suspicious street vending operations, laboratory billing and other potentially fraudulent business practices, according to the press release.

Hollister Police added that identity theft could be a concern with the unauthorized pop-up sites, as personnel frequently request driver’s licenses and medical cards for information. Furthermore, they were also seen soliciting donations for services they said were free.

The city’s code enforcement officer cited one person operating the Kmart site for operating without a business license, according to Hollister Police.

The only Covid-19 testing site in San Benito County that is supported by state public health authorities is through OptumServe, located at 930 Sunset Drive in Hollister. However, due to an increase in testing demand the site is now open by appointment only, and is not accepting walk-ins until further notice.

Covid-19 testing appointments can be made at www.lhi.care.

Additional State vetted Covid-19 testing sites can be located at www.covid19.ca.gov.  

There is no cost for Covid-19 testing at an authorized testing site.

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