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Thursday, January 13, 2022

COVID Testing Company Under Intense Scrutiny Closes St. Louis Site

Posted By on Thu, Jan 13, 2022 at 12:37 PM

click to enlarge The COVID-19 testing site which had been operating out of Ballpark Village was closed Thursday morning. - RYAN KRULL
  • Ryan Krull
  • The COVID-19 testing site which had been operating out of Ballpark Village was closed Thursday morning.

Kelly Krug Whitener's family dodged COVID-19 for two years until last Friday when her son tested positive at the family's pediatrician's office.

Since the family had been exposed and Whitener was feeling under the weather, Whitener went with her daughter on Monday to get tested at Ballpark Village. Her daughter tested positive. Whitener tested negative. Still dealing with a little bit of a sore throat two days later, Whitener went back to Ballpark Village to get tested again. This time she tested positive.



A few hours after the positive test Whitener, who tends bar at Busch Stadium and the Enterprise Center, saw the news on social media that the company that had administered her test, the Center for Covid Control, was under intense scrutiny. The Better Business Bureau had given them an F rating. KSDK reported the Central West End testing site run by the company had seemingly been abandoned overnight.

"I was like, wait, I was there today," Whitener said. "I'd been there twice this week."

Uncertainty is part of COVID-19 even under the best of circumstances: Do you quarantine for five days or ten? What if you test negative but have a scratchy throat? What if you are exposed, but vaccinated and feel fine?

On top of all the questions that typically accompany a positive test, Whitener now wonders if her and her daughter's tests were even legit to begin with.

The Center for Covid Control was incorporated in Illinois in December 2020. Aleya Siyaj is listed as the LLC's manager on paperwork filed with the Illinois Secretary of State's office. According to Siyaj's Linkedin profile, she is currently the CEO of the Center for Covid Control. Her profile lists previous jobs as CEO of an axe throwing bar in the suburbs of Chicago and CEO of a doughnut shop in Chicago proper.

The Center for Covid Control's website says it operates 300 testing sites across the U.S. Complaints about those sites have popped up in nearly every corner of the country. Earlier this week, a Florida couple told local media they had gotten negative test results before even being tested. State agencies in Oregon and Massachusetts have announced investigations into the company. In Missouri, Clay County has removed the company's Kansas City area testing site from its official list of places to get tested.

Chris Nuelle, press secretary for Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office, tells the RFT, "We have received two complaints. If Missourians feel they’ve been defrauded or scammed, they’re encouraged to file a complaint with our office."

Whitener said that when she got tested at Ballpark Village, she swabbed her own nose then handed it to an employee who walked behind a curtain.

"I don't know how they would even really keep it straight," she said. "They did give you a little postcard to scan and you put all your information in through your phone. And then they just take it and you walk away. Even then I kind of was like, I wonder if they mixed it up somehow."

The RFT dropped by the Ballpark Village testing site Thursday morning to find a sign stating "Covid Testing Center Closed."

All this leaves Whitener second guessing both her negative and positive tests, facing even more uncertainty in already uncertain times. She says that after testing positive Wednesday "There's no way I was negative on Monday, too. But I guess I could have been?"

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RyanWKrull

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