LA Sheriff Withdraws From County’s COVID Test Program Citing Ties to CCP

By Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
November 30, 2021 Updated: December 1, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County sheriff has withdrawn his department from the county’s COVID-19 testing program citing concerns over the test company’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Sheriff Alex Villanueva informed county supervisors of his decision to withdraw from the program in a letter on Nov. 29.

“This letter is to inform you the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (Department) will not participate in COVID-19 registering or testing with Fulgent Genetics Corporation (Fulgent), due to the fact the DNA data obtained is not guaranteed to be safe and secure from foreign governments and ‘will likely be shared with the Republic of China,’” Villanueva wrote in the letter.

Epoch Times Photo
LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva in Irvine, Calif., on May 27, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The sheriff said he was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) weapons of mass destruction coordinator about Fulgent Genetics and met with the coordinator on Nov. 26.

Villaneuva said he was shocked to learn that the company had strong ties with BGI, WuXP, and Huawei Technology, all of which are linked to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Peoples Republic of China State Council, which are under the control of the CCP.

Fulgent Genetics Chief Commercial Officer Brandon Perthuis denied the sheriff’s accusations that the company was collecting DNA data from the tests and sharing it with the CCP.

“Fulgent Genetics operates privately and independently in the People’s Republic of China and does not share personal data of any kind with the Chinese government,” Perthuis said in a statement.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) asked Fulgent Genetics on Twitter on Nov. 30 about its privacy statement that declares the company may store, process, and transmit personal information in locations around the world, including locations outside of the country.

Lieu’s office was not available for comment by press time.

The no-bid contract signed between the county and Fulgent Genetics allows them to collect DNA data obtained from mandatory COVID-19 testing, for unknown purposes, Villanueva said. This has shattered all confidence the department’s personnel had in the process, he said.

The department will implement its own registration system that has no association with Fulgent, Villanueva said.

The sheriff’s department on Nov. 30 declined to say what its next steps would be.

“The letter was not intended for public dissemination at this time and it would be premature for the Sheriff’s Department to comment further until the Board of Supervisors has had an opportunity to respond,” a department spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

Epoch Times Photo
An EqualTox lab worker processes COVID-19 tests in Tustin, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

County Supervisor and Board Chair Hilda Solis, who issued an executive order mandating all county employees be vaccinated or submit an exemption by Oct. 1, defended the testing program on Twitter on Nov. 30.

“When contracting, protecting employees’ health information is a top priority. The County uses a rigorous vetting process to ensure the integrity of its partners,” Solis wrote on Twitter.

“If credible threats are flagged, immediate action is taken. To date, we have no indication data has been compromised.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was invited to the Nov. 26 FBI briefing, but she didn’t attend because she was out of town for Thanksgiving, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kuehl also defended Fulgent Genetics.

“From what I heard about the briefing, there was no evidence at all, zero, that Fulgent had breached anything or had any relationship with the Chinese government that was harmful to the information that might be present in the samples that they’re testing,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

Villanueva announced in October that he wouldn’t enforce the county’s mandated vaccine program. He also said in November that employees were reluctant to register their vaccine status with the county’s Fulgent Genetics program after the county added an equity survey about employees’ sexual preferences to the vaccine registration program.

The vaccine mandate has caused many at the department to leave, Villanueva said.

The county sent out notices of noncompliance to employees who had not registered with the Fulgent program in mid-November. Employees who received a notice were told they must register in the system and begin COVID-19 testing within five days of receiving the notice or face discipline that includes suspension, a county spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

Employees were directed to be tested at any of the LA County Workforce Testing Sites established by Fulgent, according to the employee notice.

Employees who hadn’t complied with the vaccine policy within 45 days of receiving the notice were told they would face a five-day suspension. They will have 30 days after they return from the suspension to come into compliance.