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SPECIAL REPORT - THE COVID LAB: State Secrets Exposed by Julie Watts TV Investigates on YouTube

This two-year investigation gave a voice to brave whistleblowers who risked their careers in the interest of public health, and it shined a spotlight on shocking public health failures, which it appeared the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) tried to hide amid the pandemic.

CBS Sacramento conducted dozens of interviews with whistleblowers and lab experts, submitted hundreds of public records requests, and reviewed thousands of pages of internal lab documents.

Still, public health officials tried to discredit the reporting, and whistleblower complaints, even after their own inspectors confirmed the findings.

Both state and federal regulators concluded that the lab posed "immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety" "likely to cause serious injury or harm, or death," but CDPH didn't warn the public, or even pause testing, as problems continued for nearly a year.

Following these reports, lawmakers introduced legislation that was intended to transcend COVID and ensure accountability and transparency long after the pandemic is over.

Senate Bill 1271, was signed into law in 2022 and takes effect on January 1, 2023.  It requires state agencies to submit the terms of proposed contract renewals for large no-bid state contracts, like PerkinElmer's, to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for review. The Newsom administration quietly renewed PerkinElmer's no-bid contract amid ongoing state and federal investigations of the lab, even though PerkinElmer failed to fulfill its contractual obligations and was at risk of losing its license.

Senate Bill 947, The Whistleblower Protection Act, unanimously passed the State Senate but later stalled in the Assembly in 2022. It would extend whistleblower protections beyond government employees to include employees of government contractors like PerkinElmer, which was awarded a $1.7B no-bid lab contract to run the state COVID lab and subsequently sued the whistleblowers who exposed wrongdoing. Wilk's office says it is planning to reintroduce the whistleblower protection legislation in 2023.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 7, would have required legislative approval before the renewal of large no-bid state contracts. It stalled in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and Senate Bill 1271 was introduced in its place.

The state ultimately terminated its $1.7B COVID lab contract with PerkinElmer.  

THE COVID LAB: State Secrets Exposed

CONTINUING COVERAGE - THE COVID LAB: A Year-Long Investigation by Julie Watts TV Investigates on YouTube

This 30 Minute Special Report followed the first 14-months of a CBS13 investigation that prompted government investigations, resulted in three pieces of new legislation, and was the subject of national media coverage that shined a spotlight on hidden public health failures during the peak of the pandemic.

Each of the original daily newscast reports is linked below.  For ease of navigation, you'll also find video-chapter links for the special report: THE COVID LAB: State Secrets Exposed.

  • 0:00 Prologue
  • 02:16 Introduction
  • 03:22 CHAPTER 1 A Billion-Dollar Promise
  • 07:06 CHAPTER 2: False Positives
  • 12:54 CHAPTER 3: The Whistleblowers
  • 18:55 CHAPTER 4: Fixing A Flawed Test
  • 24:01 CHAPTER 5: State Secrets Revealed

(This report first aired on Dec 30, 2021)


STATE SECRETS: The Whistleblower Investigation 

Asleep At the Lab: Whistleblower Allegations From Inside CA's Billion-Dollar COVID Lab


CA's Billion-Dollar COVID Testing Lab Under Investigation Following CBS13 Whistleblower Report


Questionable COVID Results – More Concerning Whistleblower Allegations From State COVID Lab


PerkinElmer Sues Whistleblower After Allegations About Troubled CA COVID Testing Lab


Regulators Find 'Significant Deficiencies' At CA COVID Testing Lab – Whistleblowers Respond

STATE SECRETS: The Troubled Test

State COVID Test Not FDA Authorized


Same COVID Test, Different Results: FDA Looking Into State Lab 'Test Result Concerns'


CBS13 Investigates: Should Rapid Test Be Used To Test School Athletes?


Delayed School COVID Results, Canceled Games and Contamination Concerns


Are False Positives or Sensitive Tests Responsible For School COVID Spikes?


CA COVID LAB Returns Fewer Than 1 Out Of 5 Results Within Required 48hrs During Omicron Surge

 STATE SECRETS: Continued Accountability

Continued Accountability: Delayed Investigation Report, Denied Interview Requests


Lawmakers Demand Answers –What's CDPH Hiding At The $1.7B COVID Testing Lab? 


Theranos Trial Reveals Details of Federal Investigation at Troubled CA COVID Lab, No-Bid Contract Renewed


State Inspections Confirm Whistleblower Allegations At Troubled California COVID Lab

Lab Experts Criticize State's Response To Risk Of 'Serious Injury, Harm or Death' At CA COVID Testing Lab


CBS13 COVID Lab Investigation Prompts New Legislation to Protect Whistleblowers & Taxpayers


California Department of Public Health Terminates $1.7B COVID Testing Lab Contract


Whistleblower Protection Legislation Moves Forward - Following Investigations Into Troubled COVID Testing Lab

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