CHICAGO — Missing test results, unmasked workers, illegal fees for COVID tests — these are just some of the issues Chicagoans have encountered at unregulated, pop-up testing sites in recent weeks.
Now, the state is cracking down on these “fly by night” operations, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday.
Last week, Block Club reported on problems at pop-up coronavirus testing sites across the city. As residents flocked to get tested before Christmas and New Year’s, dozens said they never received test results, observed testing site workers unmasked and encountered facilities trying to charge for tests that should be free.
At a Monday news conference to discuss hospital capacity issues amid the state’s latest COVID surge, officials urged people to find testing sites using the state’s website — and to trust their gut if they show up to a site that looks shady.
“Some of [these testing sites] may be fly by night,” Pritzker said. “All they’re doing is taking the swabs, putting it in the liquid, then they aren’t taking responsibility for how long it takes to get that test back from a lab that they may not have a strong relationship with.
“That is an enormous problem. Some of them are not even returning results at all,” he added.
Pritzker said he has referred the issue of questionable pop-up sites to the state attorney general’s office to investigate.
“We intend to make sure those operations are no longer doing to customers and patients what they have been doing,” he said.
He urged residents to use free, community-based testing sites. You can find an approved list of such sites here.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health, also warned about shady pop-up sites.
“We do want to urge some caution with some of these clinics,” she said Monday. “There unfortunately are those who are taking advantage of these crazy times to try to scam people. So if you have any doubts about the testing location that you are looking at, go ahead and ask some questions. ‘What lab is the testing site using? When will you receive the results? And from whom.”
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: