Court Battles

COVID-19 test provider says it’ll sue LA sheriff for alleging company has links to China

The company providing COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles County said it would sue Sheriff Alex Villanueva for defamation after he claimed the company was connected to China. 

Villanueva alleged late last year that Fulgent Genetics had “strong ties” to Chinese technology and genomics companies but did not provide details of those ties. In a letter to the board of supervisors, the sheriff said DNA collected as a result of the tests was “not guaranteed to be safe and secure from foreign governments.”

The company, which was contracted to conduct testing and track the vaccination status of county employees, claims the sheriff’s remarks were part of “a last-ditch effort” to avoid vaccine mandates, according to the Los Angeles Times

Fulgent’s attorneys asserted that the sheriff “made these and other false claims about Fulgent even though the FBI neither accused Fulgent of wrongdoing nor alluded to any evidence that Fulgent provided or would provide private medical information to China,” the Times reported.

Following the sheriff’s claims, Lisa Garrett, the county’s director of personnel, denied that data was shared with Beijing. 

“The County has no evidence from any law enforcement agency or any other source that any County employee data has been or will be shared with the Chinese government,” Garrett said in an email to employees last month, the Times added. 

Fulgent is also contracted by federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, and is certified by the Food and Drug Administration.

Villanueva has been outspoken against the county’s vaccine mandate. He has previously asserted that the mandates would cause a “mass exodus” among his employees and said that he could not enforce “reckless mandates that put the public’s safety at risk.”

The Hill has reached out to Fulgent Genetics and to the sheriff’s department for comment. 

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