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I-Team: Cost of COVID

The costs continue to mount for Riverside County over a year into the pandemic.

News Channel 3 obtained records showing a list of contracts executed under emergency contracting authority because of the pandemic.

The county had spent over $137 million through the end of April of this year.

The Assistant Director of Riverside County Public Health, Michael Osur, says the county tried to hire local vendors and community based organizations as much as possible with those funds.

Millions have gone to local restaurants for the Great Plates program helping to feed seniors.

Millions more went to organizations like The Regional Access Project Foundation.

"Regional access was great because we could contract with them, give them the money, then they could get it all out to all the skilled nursing facilities and also the desert health care foundation," Osur says.

Initially, the county was spending millions on testing.

Lab Corp shows up twice in the records for $12 million.

"No public health lab is designed to do the kind of volume when we were doing thousands and thousands of tests a day. You can imagine, so that money went to Lab Corp," Osur says.

Curative to the rescue.

In November 2020 the county signed a contract with curative for kiosk, mobile, and drive-through testing sites.

It was a "no money agreement."

Haley Albert, Curative Director, explained that the company bills for its services but the patients will never pay, whether they have insurance or not.

The company has seen explosive growth.

"We went from about 15 to 20 employees, every one working around the clock doing every imaginable job, to just over 6,000 nationwide," Albert says.

Osur had never heard of Curative until the middle of October and initially found it difficult to believe that they could handle all of the testing at no expense to the county.

Now the county and Curative are both looking to the future with an end in sight to the pandemic.

Albert says, "We are sort of working on our Curative, what we call Curative 2.0."

Albert won't say how much money Curative has been able to bill through its contracts with Riverside County and other counties around the country.

She does say the company has processed more than 20 million tests nationwide.

That would mean the company's revenue could be hundreds of millions of dollars.

Article Topic Follows: I-Team

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John White

John White anchors News Channel 3 Live at 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 11:00 p.m.on KESQ-TV and CBS Local 2. Learn more about John here.


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