COVID-19 testing surge leads to concerns over potential illegitimate sites

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The surge in COVID-19 testing demand has many people looking for sites with short wait times and reliable results. But some officials are warning some sites may not be legitimate.

The issue was discussed during a Jan. 7 meeting with the Public Safety and Health Committee at Milwaukee City Hall.

"There are some random trailers popping up that seem like scams and they're dangerous," 14th District Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic said during the meeting.

Thirteenth District Ald. Scott Spiker asked Milwaukee Health Department leaders if they are able to work with law enforcement or other agencies to track and close illegitimate sites.

"We don't have the capacity to do that right now," Health Department Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said. "And some of them pop up overnight and are there for one or two days and are gone."

Some companies, including some with locations in the Milwaukee area, have sparked criticism across the country because of how their sites are operated, their handling of personal information and reliability of test results.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) told CBS 58 the organization is monitoring the issue across the country and in our area.

"BBB recommends looking up the name of the testing site on our website at BBB.org and reading reviews and complaints before deciding and going into the site for a test," BBB Wisconsin Director of Investigations and Media Relations Lisa Schiller said in an interview.

The agency added that people getting tests should treat a testing site as they would any business, including making sure personal information that is shared is secure.

"Consumers have every right to ask where that information is going, how it is being stored, what is the protocols in terms of destroying of it and safeguarding it in the process," Schiller said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services sent the following statement to CBS 58:

"DHS researches each inquiry or complaint regarding COVID-19 provider testing or billing practices that do not align with current policies. We conduct outreach to providers to investigate each situation as appropriate. That includes education about current policies and regulations, and any next steps required by the provider and/or DHS."

The Milwaukee Health Department has a list of verified testing sites that can be found HERE

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