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SF city attorney subpoenas companies suspected of running rogue Covid testing sites

The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office on Wednesday issued subpoenas to two companies—Crestview Clinical Laboratory and Community Wellness America—that are suspected of operating uncertified testing sites in the city and other places across the state.

The city attorney demanded a number of documents from the companies, including requisition forms between Crestview and Community Wellness, communications with public health officials and documents concerning Community Wellness America CEO Dr. Steve Sterling’s involvement with Covid-19 testing, according to city records.

The subpoenas also request documents pertaining to Dr. Phillip Milgram’s involvement with the Covid testing operations at the two companies. Milgram is a San Diego doctor who was sued by a former patient alleging he used his own sperm to artificially inseminate her.

Reports about unsanctioned pop-up testings sites, which were located near Dolores Park, Golden Gate Park and other high traffic locations, emerged earlier this month as the city’s official testing infrastructure has been stressed under the weight of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Testing facilities are required to have a valid, up-to-date Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) license from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in order to legally operate. As part of the requirements for a license, the operator has to prove it only uses FDA-authorized tests.

In a Jan. 10 letter sent to Encinitas-based Community Wellness America, the City Attorney David Chiu wrote that when city employees asked the operator to produce a license, they instead showed an expired document issued to Crestview Clinical Laboratories, an Irvine-based lab.

The letter notes that if Community Wellness America is not authorized to administer Covid tests it must immediately cease its testing activity.

Jen Kwart, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, said the two companies were “less than forthcoming” when voluntary requests for information were made, which led to the subpoenas.

Part of the investigation, Kwart said, is to better understand the relationship between the two entities.

Community Wellness reportedly has been accused of running unauthorized Covid testing sites across the country, including in Marin County, Santa Cruz and Seattle.

Kwart said that the allegedly unauthorized testing sites are “a very small fraction of overall testing in the city” and residents should go through their healthcare provider or city websites to ensure they are going to a qualified testing provider.

Kevin Truong can be reached at