DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — An unauthorized COVID-19 testing site in Dartmouth was ordered to shut down by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health after the town inspected the facility and discovered the staff weren’t following the appropriate protocols.
In a letter sent to the testing site Thursday, Dartmouth Director of Public Health Christopher Michaud demanded the Center for COVID Control cease and desist all operations.
Michaud, according to the letter, went to inspect the facility after the Dartmouth Board of Health received a complaint that, “pertained to the operational procedures not protecting the public health.”
While inspecting the site, Michaud noticed a number of health violations, including debris and “clumps of hair” strewn about the floor in the testing areas.
Michaud also determined the staff was “not familiar with the testing products and did not follow the manufacturers instructions for obtaining results.”
The Department of Public Health notified the Illinois-based company that operations at the testing site cannot resume until they are licensed by the state.
The state also ordered the company to cease and desist operations at its other two testing sites in Massachusetts, which are located in Needham and Worcester.
The company had been operating two testing sites in Rhode Island: one in West Warwick and another in Smithfield. Joseph Wendelken, as spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health, confirmed Thursday the state ordered both sites to cease and desist all operations.
Shortly after being ordered to close down in Massachusetts, the Center for COVID Control released a statement announcing the company would be pausing operations so they could better train their staff.
“Center for COVID Control is committed to serving our patients in the safest, most accurate and most compliant manner,” Center for COVID Control Founder and CEO Aleya Siyaj said. “Regrettably, due to our rapid growth and the unprecedented recent demand for testing, we haven’t been able to meet all our commitments.”
“We’ve made this difficult decision to temporarily pause all operations, until we are confident that all collection sites are meeting our high standards for quality,” she continued.
The company also said it is “responding to queries from several public health and regulatory agencies.”
“For this, we truly apologize and are committed to resolve these recent customer inconveniences and loss of confidence,” Siyaj added.
Despite the cease and desist orders, Siyaj said the company plans to reopen their sites on Jan. 22.
The clinics boast “no appointment required, no insurance needed” PCR rapid testing and have been facing scrutiny nationwide. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been looking into numerous complaints they’ve received about the testing sites, which include people receiving the wrong test results or not getting them back altogether, among others.
Anyone who has had a poor experience at one of these unauthorized COVID testing sites can report it by clicking here.