CHICAGO — The Illinois attorney general is warning people to be cautious before they visit a pop-up COVID-19 testing site.
Testing pop-ups have generated controversy in recent weeks. Many people have turned to them for tests since there are few other options, but Chicagoans have reported a litany of issues with them: Results that never come in. Workers not wearing masks or gloves. Workers telling people with insurance to put down that they don’t have it. Lines that stretch down the block. Facilities that are dirty and so crammed full of people social distancing is impossible. Some facilities trying to charge for tests that should be free.
After a Block Club report on those problems, Gov. JB Pritzker described the pop-ups as an “enormous problem.” He called on the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to investigate the businesses.
On Tuesday, that agency issued a “consumer alert” that encourages Illinois residents to be cautious of the pop-ups.
“It is important for people to know that these sites are not licensed or regulated by a government agency, and they should ask questions before visiting a pop-up testing location — or try to utilize a state-sponsored testing site,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in the alert.
Raoul recommended people go to a state-sponsored testing site, if possible, or contact their health care provider for testing or for a recommendation to a testing center.
People who do to go a testing site that isn’t on the state’s list should consider the following, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office:
- What tests does the site administer?
- Who analyzes the results?
- What laboratory does the site use? You can go online to determine if a lab is certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- When will test results be communicated to you, and how/from whom will you receive that communication?
- Who can you call with questions or concerns about results?
- What type of personal information will the site ask you to provide?
- Does the site charge any out-of-pocket fee?
- Does the site appear to observe the CDC’s recommendations to protect against COVID-19? For instance, do workers maintain a distance of 6 feet between people and wear masks indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission?
If people are asked for information they are not comfortable with providing, like a photo of their ID, they should ask if the can get tested without providing that, according to the office.
People should also be aware that most legitimate testing sites won’t request payment out of pocket, as they’ll bill customers’ insurance or seek reimbursement from the federal government, according to the Attorney General’s Office. People who are asked to pay out of pocket should take that as a red flag and exercise caution, according to the alert.
People should go to a different testing site if they go to one that “does not seem right,” according to the alert. People can also file a complaint on the Attorney General’s Office’s website if they think they were a victim of fraud or if they were not charged at a time of a test but later received a bill.
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