New test site claims legitimacy but cannot produce permits
Walk-in Covid-19 testing site on 18th and Dolores streets giving up to 100 free PCR tests per day is run by a company that Marin County close in August of last year for operating without a license.
Bob Soto, a lab assistant at Community Wellness America, Inc., who was the only employee at the site’s test tent on Friday and Saturday, was unable to produce clearance papers at Mission Local’s request.
He said his company had contracts with Crestview Clinical Laboratory, LLC, based in Irvine, Calif., And the site was licensed.
“The testing site should be able to produce the license when asked,” a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Public Health wrote in an email. “We know of groups offering Covid-19 testing in the city that do not appear to have the proper permits and licenses to set up testing stations. ”
The ministry has not confirmed whether the 18th and Dolores site is licensed.
Residents, public health officials said, should be careful, noting that all testing sites must have a valid Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) license through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (CMS) from the United States.
The laboratory used by Soto’s employer – Crestview Clinical Laboratory – is CLIA Certified and listed in line as a member of the California Coronavirus Testing Task Force. Community Wellness America, which is based in San Diego, is not listed on this site.
The Ministry of Public Health encouraged community members to check the city test page for test sites. The Community Wellness America site is not listed and the company could not be reached for comment.
“No one is causing us problems. No policeman came to tell us we can’t be here, ”Soto said to a swabbed person who thanked Soto for being there.
Soto told the resident he could expect to get his test results within two to five days, but he also told Mission Local that his “delivery service has Covid-19” and expected to what the results take longer over the weekend.
Salu Ribeiro, co-founder and CEO of the Bay Area PLS mobile testing company which provides rapid testing at the Unidos en Salud community testing site at 24th and Capp streets, said he was unfamiliar with the site. 18th and Dolores or Community Wellness America. Community Wellness America should be able to show permits upon request, he said.
His company, he said, has dealt with illegitimate testing companies in the past, including one last week that assumed the identity of his Oakland testing site to attract customers.
The Soto site asked residents to fill out a form with the person’s contact details, including name, address, phone number and email. He also asked about the symptoms, whether the test seeker had ever had a covid test and the vaccination dates. If you are not insured, the form requested a driver’s license or passport number.
With the information that the test site asks of residents, Ribeiro said, the company can bill the government through the CARES Act and private insurers. “A lot of labs got information on people and billed the government, but people never get results,” Riberio said.
Earlier this week, Community Wellness America was administering tests on 18th and Church streets. Soto said they had another window of testing in the region between August and mid-September of last year.
On Friday afternoon, the line for the 18th and the Dolores site fluctuated between 10 and 15 people but had all but disappeared by 3:15 p.m. A similar number was expected to be tested on Saturday morning.
Official hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Soto said he is going until testing is complete. The demand seemed consistent enough that Soto would consider staying there Monday through Saturday.
Several people online wondered if the site was legitimate, but they were more concerned with getting tested.
A mother was looking around town for tests on Friday when she saw the site of 18 and Dolores. However, she eventually left the Wellness America line to try out the town site at Alemany Market.
A woman in line on Saturday told someone she was speaking to on the phone how “I just stumbled upon a free test site. I feel weird, but you never know.
For more information on testing and help finding a testing location, visit sf.gov/gettested.