As demand for COVID-19 testing increases, pop-up testing sites abound in Fresno — in street corners, parking lots, and shopping centers, as well as online.
The Fresno County Department of Public Health says many of these sites are unregulated and unapproved, and could lead to fraudulent activities like identity theft.
The department warns residents to be aware of scams and recommends that residents verify the credibility of testing sites before seeking services.
Here’s a list of local testing sites vetted and approved by FCDPH.
Vohra Warns About COVID Testing Scams
Fresno County’s interim health officer, Dr. Rais Vohra, said it has been a real challenge for many parents who are struggling to get themselves and their children tested.
“We don’t want you to fall prey to unscrupulous vendors … because that information is almost worse than having no information.” — Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer
“We don’t want you to fall prey to unscrupulous vendors who may not be above board in terms of the tests that they’re offering or the answers that they’re giving you, because that information is almost worse than having no information,” said Vohra.
“I urge residents to take proactive steps when seeking COVID-19 testing services such as verifying credentials or using one of the approved locations listed on the Fresno County website.”
Residents are urged to visit the FCDPH COVID-19 testing resources webpage for a list of local testing sites which will have direct information on the OptumServe testing sites, local area pharmacies, and community testing events.
Residents can also order free at-home tests by mail online through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Federal Distribution Program.
Tips To Avoid Fraudulent COVID Testing Sites
Fresno County residents can avoid fake COVID-19 testing sites by taking the following precautions:
- Request medical credentials to prove legitimacy.
- Ask which laboratory test is being used (PCR or rapid test).
- Ask where the test is being processed and if it is being sent to a lab.
- Ask how the results will be reported.
Tips to remember to spot a fraudulent testing site:
- They ask for social security numbers or other non-medical information.
- Materials do not have a logo.
- The site is on a sidewalk and not affiliated with a medical provider.
- Most FDA-approved rapid tests results take 10 minutes to 20 minutes. Anything faster is questionable.
Assume COVID Positivity If You Have Symptoms
While testing for COVID is important, Vohra wants people who are visibly sick and experiencing COVID symptoms to assume that they do have COVID.
Symptoms to watch out for include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, a new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. These all can be symptoms of COVID-19, say health officials.
“If you have any of those symptoms right now, just assume that you have COVID or something else that’s contagious and infectious that forces you to stay home.” said Vohra. “Getting the test is secondary. But the key thing is, if you feel like you’re infected, stay home and don’t spread it. Take care of yourself as best as you can with or without the testing.”
Illegal Testing Sites Change Locations
While the authorities work to shut down these illegal testing sites, others pop up in their place, says Vohra.
The pressure to provide testing kits has saturated the market as demand continues to grow.
“Unfortunately, if we go shut down or if the authorities go shut down one site that doesn’t seem like it’s certified to do what they’re doing, then the same vendors or different vendors will come up with another business model and pop up somewhere else,” said Vohra. “It feels like a game of Whack-A-Mole whenever we try to individually pinpoint and work with vendors.”
Vohra does not expect that they will be able to shut down all illegal sites. That’s why it’s crucial that people take the extra step of getting tested from certified vendors and ordering at-home test kits from government sites.
“We need to partner with everyone to make sure people have the best information that they can have to make the best decisions that they need to make about where to get tested,” said Vohra.
Report Your COVID Test Results
FCDPH encourages all residents who test positive for COVID to self isolate and report their at-home positive test results to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Anyone can self-report results using the Fresno County COVID-19 Self-Test webpage or ask for assistance by calling the Fresno County COVID-19 Information Line at (888) 559-2683.