LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As Kentucky is expanding its COVID-19 testing capabilities, Louisville is taking extra steps to crack down on scam test sites.
“Any folks that we think are scams, we’re running them out of town,” Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday. “That’s what we did last week with the three that were here and we’ll continue to do so.”
Dressed head to toe in hazmat gear, a self-proclaimed medical marketing company set up a makeshift testing site on Wayside Christian Mission’s property last week, without the property owner’s permission. That was just one of a few bogus testing sites that popped up in the area. Another one appeared at Sojourn Church Midtown.
“It was just a very dangerous situation, charging people $240 for a test. It was just horrible,” Metro Council President David James said. “We had people not properly donning their PPE. We had people that were using the same gloves that they used on the person before to test.”
The city’s Metro Health director and the Jefferson County attorney signed an order Monday requiring any test site operators not affiliated with health facilities to get approval before starting.
“Increasing testing is one of our priorities and we’re looking at ways to do that safely but outside labs coming in and doing it on their own aren’t the best,” Metro Health Director Dr. Sarah Moyer said.
The order states that if a site is approved, it’ll have to be screened by the metro health department to ensure it is following city, state, and CDC health and safety guidelines.
“We’re hoping that this order will prevent any from new ones from coming and if they do they’re going to be required to work with the health department,” Dr. Moyer said. “So we can make sure it is legitimate and safe and they’re not spreading COVID instead of just testing for it.”
The FBI and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office are also investigating last week’s scammers.
“We are very aware of the situation, we are monitoring the situation, we are working side by side with LMPD, Kentucky State Police, the secret service, IRS, CPB, HIS, postal service on this specific issue”, FBI Special Agent in Charge, James Brown, said last week.
Any sites that don’t comply with the order will be immediately shut down and according to the order, those behind the scams could face criminal charges and jail time.
“It should serve hopefully as a blanket warning that you can go somewhere else and do this but you’re not going to do it here in Louisville, Kentucky,” James said.
With more coronavirus-related scams appearing around the state, James said he’s shared the city order with leaders in other counties, to serve as an example should they see similar scam test sites.
“Scam artists try and look for people’s weaknesses and right now they say the fear and the anxiety that people have,” James said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
James also reminded that in the area right now, there are only three legitimate places conducting COVID-19 tests by appointment only. Those include UofL Health, Baptist Health, and Norton Healthcare.