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Illegal COVID-19 Testing Site Shutdown In Grass Valley

GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) - An illegal COVID-19 testing site was shut down in Grass Valley.

The site was just steps away from a legitimate Nevada County site, confusing residents who made appointments to be tested.

"All I saw was some guy who had a blue apron on and a full mask on going out to cars with a clipboard," said Carl Robinson. "It looked official."

Robinson scheduled an appointment at Nevada County's Colfax Avenue testing site in Grass valley, but when he arrived, he wasn't sure where to turn to test.

"I was here to get my first COVID test, and then over here was another COVID test site that said it was the rapid test site," says Robinson.

Steps away from the county site was a shipping container advertising COVID-19 testing.

"Signs up on the side that said rapid test site. Some people went over there and they were confused with which place they were supposed to go," says Robinson.

The site now is no longer running, shutdown and marked as dangerous and unsafe to occupy by Nevada County Public Health, for not having the necessary authorization to operate. The site agreed to close its doors and not reopen without approval.

But who was running the site and what exactly did they do wrong?

Grass Valley police confirmed to CBS13 that a local community group was trying to get permitted by the city's community development director to operate the site – but the city had yet to give the green light. The group went ahead anyway, testing residents without the proper permits.

"I honestly can't say I'm that surprised," says Grass Valley resident Bill.

To make matters worse, shipping containers are illegal within Grass Valley city limits.

"Maybe their heart was in the right place they were trying to fill a need but you have to go about it the right way," says Bill.

Contrary to a warning released by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Grass Valley police say the group was not stealing money or the identities of the people they tested – though, residents say the illegal operation still poses problems for the community.

"All this does is kind of erode trust in the legit places that are doing it the right way," says Bill.

If you did get tested there, officials suggest retaking that test.

CBS13 did ask the city and the county about the group that was running the site. They did not have that information for us.

Nevada County does ask anyone who notices a testing site that might be illegal to report it immediately.

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