The pop-up COVID-19 testing sites, which spread like a rash into any vacant space available in late 2021 and into early 2022 and run by outfits like the Center for Covid Control and Free Covid Testing Site, have been pretty well put out of commission – at least for now – after multiple investigations were launched against the former company and its primary lab partner.
What we learned in the past week through data kept by the Centers for Disease Control is just how much money flowed from the federal government to these companies, which would seek reimbursement for those they claimed were uninsured, even if they weren’t, allegedly.
We’re talking staggering amounts of money here. The primary lab used by the Center for Covid Control, called Doctors Clinical Laboratory, had been paid more than $120 million by the feds. Other labs associated with pop-up operators raked in even more money, by submitting invoices for tests many of whose results now appear to have been questionable to fraudulent in nature.
If these investigations bear fruit, we hope there are serious consequences for those attempting to profit from a public health crisis. Such investigations ought to also spark a little self-reflection and humility, because the scale of the crisis was not an accident.
Last week also marked the beginning of a federal effort to get at-home COVID-19 tests directly into the hands of citizens, which when you think about it, is mind-boggling nearly two full years into a pandemic that has killed nearly 900,000 nationwide during that time.
You expect bad actors to work angles in a crisis to benefit themselves, that’s why there are booming black markets in times of war. In this case, our national response encouraged such behavior.
The latest case surge, fueled by the omicron variant of the virus, appears to be pulling back from its peak, but the danger of other, perhaps more virulent, variants remains. We’ll know when they appear.
In the meantime, we have at our disposal proven protection against the worst effects of the virus, at least against the variants we’ve experienced to date. Those are the vaccines that continue to be widely available, for free, to anyone over the age of 5.
While a very good percentages of residents, at least locally, have received at least one dose of the vaccine – in Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside those figures stand at more than 80 percent – many fewer local residents have been fully vaccinated, much less boosted.
The most recent figures from the Cook County Department of Public Health show that fewer than 70 percent of Brookfield and North Riverside residents are fully vaccinated, while not quite 75 percent of Riversiders are.
Vaccines are not just protection for yourself, they are protection for others – your kids, their friends and families, their teachers. They’re not a conspiracy, they’re miracles.