SF City Attorney investigates potentially unlicensed COVID testing firm – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco attorney David Chiu announced Tuesday that his office is investigating a local COVID test operator who could work without a license.

Chiu recently sent a letter to the test company Community Wellness America, Inc. and asked for proof that it got the right licenses to operate in the city.

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“It would be unacceptable if there are rogue actors trying to take advantage of the situation and set up unlicensed testing facilities to try to make a quick buck,” said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. “We are specifically looking for a specific federal license that these operators are presumed to have.”

In a press release, Chiu said the letter was part of a new operation with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) to track down unlicensed test operators in the city.

“During this Omicron rise, it is of utmost importance to ensure the integrity of our COVID test operations,” Chiu said. “Our test capacity is stretched to the maximum right now, and there is understandable anxiety about finding a test.”

Chius’ office said it received reports of Community Wellness America, Inc. possibly operating without a license from Jan. 5. The company hosted test sites near Golden Gate Park and Dolores Park among other areas, and when asked, these pop-up test operations were unable to produce valid, updated Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) licenses. , according to reports.

On the corner of Dolores and 18th Streets on Monday, the company had set up a pop-up test site. On Tuesday, the place was gone and the company was under investigation by the city.

San Francisco requires all test operators to have a valid CLIA license issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which they can receive by demonstrating that they use only FDA-approved COVID tests.

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“Private test operators do not need to obtain a license from the San Francisco Department of Public Health to perform COVID tests in San Francisco,” Chius’ office said. “But if an operator intends to perform testing on urban properties or block a public duty to give way, the operator must have a permit issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Works.”

KPIX checked into Community Wellness America and found a number of details.

IRS documents reveal the organization is 501c3 – a tax-free public charity. The certificate, which was displayed at the pop-up site next to Mission High School, was for its partner, Crestview Clinical Laboratories – which is supposed to test all the samples, but that certificate had expired in November. KPIX found a federal website indicating that it actually expires at the end of this month.

Chiu is concerned about whether the tests being handed out are valid along with other issues.

“In addition to individuals who may not receive tests that are legitimate, licensed or authorized, we are concerned that members of the public may have their personally identifiable information taken by these unscrupulous operators and used for who knows what.” said Chiu.

No one knows if that is the case with Community Wellness America. The medical director told KPIX that he was surprised that the laboratory certificate had expired, but he did not answer other questions.

A test site would be allowed to operate on the sidewalk in San Francisco with a permit from the Department of Public Works. DPW tells KPIX that there is no such permit for Community Wellness America anywhere near Mission High School or in the city at all.

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KPIX tried to contact the owner of Community Wellness America. He is licensed to practice acupuncture in the state of California, but has not yet returned any calls or emails.

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