6 San Francisco COVID test sites close, 4 reduce hours; due to computer problems, staffing shortages

San Francisco's Department of Health officials on Monday said six city-run COVID testing sites were closed due to a nationwide computer issue with their testing vendor. 

The testing vendor is Burlingame-based, Color. The following sites are closed at this time: Alemany, SOMA (7th and Brannan), SEHC, 20 Norton, Ella Hill Hutch, and Bayview Opera House.  

The city did not give an estimate of when the sites would reopen. This came on the same day the city's health department announced four testing sites will be temporarily reducing their hours because of staffing shortages and increased processing times. You'll notice some overlap between the sites closed and the sites that reduced hours. 

Health leaders said in a news statement that in the last few weeks, the testing sites have more than doubled the number of tests since the omicron surge began in early December. Some sites have been operating at 500% to 900% above capacity levels before this surge, health officials said. 

Starting Monday, the four city-affiliated testing sites will perform approximately 250 fewer tests per day. They had been averaging 6,000 tests per day over the last week, city health officials said.

There is a bitter irony that as COVID cases have surged, the city is unable to administer as many tests due to COVID-related staffing shortages among its workers. 

"We want to emphasize that we anticipate this to be [a] temporary period of time, and the sites will continue to operate far above their designated capacity," the San Francisco Department of Public Health said in a statement.

One site, Southeast Health Center, will experience a reduction in hours on Monday only, and then will resume normal operating hours on Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, the department of health is working on acquiring over 150,000 rapid tests set to arrive early this week. 

The city's four-affiliated sites currently account for about 60% of the tests administered at site locations in San Francisco. 

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The four San Francisco testing sites with temporarily reduced hours include: 

  • Ella Hill Hutch, reduction of three hours in the afternoon. (New hours: 8 am. to 2 p.m.)
  • Southeast Health Center, reduction of three hours in the morning on Monday only. (Monday only: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; then return to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesday)
  • Alemany, reduction of two hours in the evening. (New hours: 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.)
  • SOMA (7th/Brannan), reduction of three hours in the morning beginning Tuesday. (New hours: 12 p.m.-6 p.m.)

At the same time, the city's Department of Health said that officials are aware of groups offering COVID-19 testing that do not appear to have the appropriate permits and licensing to set up testing stations. 

Officials said they are taking the necessary steps to address the situation and looking into the appropriate enforcement measures. 

"People should use caution and not use testing sites that seem too good to be true because they may not be trustworthy," the department of health said in a statement. 

All testing sites should have a valid Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment license through the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that ensures proper standard of diagnostic testing, and the testing site should be able to produce the license when asked. 

CLIA licensing certificates can be looked up here: https://www.cdc.gov/clia/LabSearch.html

A list of city-run COVID testing sites in San Francisco can be found here