Illinois Attorney General warns about pop-up COVID testing sites

Illinois Attorney General's Building in Springfield. Photo by Tom Wray
The Illinois Attorney General's building in Springfield. Photo by Tom Wray

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued guidance this week on pop-up COVID testing sites and price gouging for at-home rapid tests.

The warning comes during a surge of infections driven by the Omicron variant that has closed schools and businesses and has pushed the General Assembly to meet remotely. There has been a national shortage of both appointments and home tests.

The AG’s office said that the pop-up testing sites are not licensed or regulated and that they can not confirm their legitimacy.

“The omicron variant has compelled many residents to seek COVID-19 testing in order to protect themselves and their families. The increased need for testing has also resulted in testing shortages, leading people to visit so-called ‘pop-up’ testing locations,” Raoul said in a press release. “It is important for people to know that these sites are not licensed or regulated by a government agency, and they should ask questions before visiting a pop-up testing location – or try to utilize a state-sponsored testing site.”

Raoul said that people should first try using a state-sponsored testing site or contacting their primary health care provider testing or testing center recommendations. People can also find a testing location by visiting the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, the Cook County Department of Health’s website and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

The Attorney General’s office is encouraging individuals who choose to use a testing site that is not included on state-sponsored lists or recommended by a primary care provider to first consider the following:

  • What tests does the site administer?
  • Who analyzes the results?
  • What laboratory does the site use? Visit to determine whether the lab being used is CLIA certified.
  • When will test results be communicated to you, and how/from whom will you receive that communication?
  • Who can you call with questions or concerns about results?
  • What type of personal information will the site ask you to provide?
  • Does the site charge any out-of-pocket fee?
  • Does the site appear to observe the CDC’s recommendations to protect against COVID-19? For instance, do workers maintain a distance of six feet between people and wear masks indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission?

The office said people should be aware that testing sites often ask for insurance information and identifying information, such as a state-issued ID. If asked for information you are not comfortable providing, ask if you can be tested without providing it.

Some may ask for an out-of-pocket payment. That’s a red flag, the Attorney General’s office said. Most testing sites will not request payment out of pocket and will instead bill insurance companies, or, if individuals are uninsured, seek reimbursement from a federal fund.   

People are encouraged to file a complaint on the Attorney General’s website if they believe they have been the victim of fraud, or if they were not charged at the time of a COVID-19 test but later receive a bill for testing services.

The Attorney General also warned people about potentially fake test kits offered for sale and is encouraging individuals to visit the FDA’s website for a list of approved at-home test kits. Consumers should expect to pay between $14 and $25 for packs of at-home rapid test kits, such as those from iHealth or Binax NOW. Complaints on fake tests or price gouging can be filed at the Attorney General’s website.