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Mass. Dept. of Public Health closes 3 unlicensed COVID-19 testing sites

Three COVID-19 testing sites in Massachusetts were ordered to close Thursday because they do not have the proper license and residents have complained about delays in receiving results, the state Department of Public Health said.

Testing sites in Dartmouth, Needham and Worcester operated by the Center for COVID Control Testing, a private company based in Illinois, were issued cease and desist orders, according to the state.

Each location provided rapid antigen and PCR testing to residents. But the company opened the sites without a license to operate a clinical laboratory in Massachusetts, officials said.

Local public health officials delivered the closing orders to the sites on Thursday morning, according to the Department of Public Health.


The state Attorney General’s office also confirmed they have received at least eight consumer complaints about the testing sites, particularly a delay in receiving results that were promised to be delivered in 48 hours, according to that office.

The complaints, which were also made to local boards of health, are being reviewed, a spokesperson said.

In a statement posted to its website, the Center for COVID Control said the plan to close all of its testing sites across the country starting Friday, due to “operational strain” and “unusually high patient demand.”

The locations would remain closed until Jan. 22, the statement said.

But the company will have to get a proper license to operate in Massachusetts, officials said.

The state Department of Public Health conducted a survey on Wednesday to investigate the complaints and found the three locations were performing tests without required state approval for a clinical laboratory license, the department said.

The City of Worcester contacted the Department of Public Health and attorney general’s office on Monday after receiving multiple complaints from their residents about the 1 Rice Square location of the Center for COVID Control, city officials said in a statement.


The site opened in a vacant storefront without the state permit as a pop-up testing site, said Chris Spencer, Worcester commissioner of inspectional services.

“They didn’t reach out to the Department of Health, they didn’t reach out to the city or any of that ahead of time,” Spencer said. “So that’s why we caught it after we got some complaints and realized that they were in there.”

Inspectional services in Worcester visited the site earlier this week and will monitor the site to enforce the Department of Public Health’s order, the statement said.

In Needham, the town counsel sent a letter to the attorney general’s office on Jan. 7 about the complaints at Center for COVID Control’s location at 1502 Highland Ave., officials said.

“Town officials have become aware of complaints that persons who have submitted to testing at this site are receiving results days or weeks later than promised, or sometimes not at all,” Christopher Heep wrote in the letter.

The site had operated with a high volume of people waiting for a test and had long “lines stretching down the street every day,” Heep wrote.

In a statement on its website, the Center for COVID Control announced that it would temporarily close all of its testing locations across the country starting Friday, due to “operational strain” and “unusually high patient demand,” the company said.

Dartmouth town officials could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.


Madison Mercado can be reached at madison.mercado@globe.com.