The Center for Covid Control: Scam or Success Story?

Part 1: Axe throwers answer the call (but not the phone)

Michael Figueroa (He/Him)
8 min readJan 9, 2022

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What are the ingredients for becoming a medical testing mogul? We might expect that the standard pathway includes having a verifiable affiliation with a legitimate medical provider or government entity, a mindfulness for the logistical challenges of rapidly processing lab results and hiring qualified health care staff, and access to the technical infrastructure needed to adequately protect personal health information. But, for an ambitious young couple living outside of Chicago, Illinois, the recipe behind the Center for Covid Control’s success seems to instead include mixing a failed donut shop, an axe throwing lounge, relationships nurtured through a cricket team, and a global pandemic.

If you reside in the United States, you are no doubt familiar with the extraordinarily long lines that seem to form at every rapid COVID-19 test site. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that everyone test themselves for COVID-19 before participating in holiday gatherings in November and December 2021 amidst the Omicron variant surge, rapid antigen tests flew off of pharmacy shelves and online retailer sites in mere moments of becoming available for purchase by those who could afford the $12–15 per test cost. For those either unable to pay for tests or seeking the highly coveted rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is required for international travel and most school systems before allowing children back into their classrooms following exposure, seeking help at rapid testing sites was their only option.

Line at a Massachusetts Center for Covid Control test site in early January 2022

With federal and state authorities either unwilling or unable to provide rapid testing options, people were forced to try their luck at independent testing sites that have popped up all across the country. Driven by an apparently fully open spigot of funding from the federal government, hundreds if not thousands of pop-up sites have emerged nationwide with the promise of bringing rapid testing closer to a desparate populace.

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Michael Figueroa (He/Him)

Latinx tech & biz exec making solutions more accessible for mission-driven orgs. Fmr President, Advanced Cyber Security Center. linkedin.com/in/michaelfigueroa