SAN FRANCISCO - As omicron cases surge, the demand for COVID testing is through the roof, but health experts in San Francisco are warning people to be careful which sites they go to for testing.
A pop-up COVID testing site at 18th and Dolores streets has out-of-date licensing. When KTVU tried to call to find out more details, the supervisor of the site, to whom we were directed, hung up the phone as soon as we identified ourselves.
Since at least last week Bob Soto has been setting up this testing tent at the corner of 18th and Dolores streets, and within minutes lines of people wanting tests show up.
Many of those patients unaware that this site is not operating with the proper licensing and certification.
A problem Crestview Clinical Laboratories argues does not endanger patients. When asked if patients should be concerned Soto answered, "No, not at all."
Soto blames the out-of-date permits on a supervisor who sent him to this location without the proper certification. "That one's out-of-date, said Soto pointing to laminated paperwork in his tent. "I think that one's ok. I'll point that out because we found that out today, and we'll get new ones I think tomorrow."
San Francisco's health department has been warning that with the increase in demand for COVID testing, unauthorized pop-up sites are showing up in the city. "We are aware of groups offering COVID-19 testing in the city that do not appear to have the appropriate permits and licensing to set up testing stations. People should use caution and not use testing sites that seem too good to be true because they may not be trustworthy."
So far the health department hasn't said if there is any kind of enforcement effort to stop unlicensed vendors from providing tests.
Patients that stopped at this location said the urgency of testing right now has them unconcerned that the vendor that now has their private medical information is currently unlicensed. "I have Kaiser, but they ran out of appointments," said Pedro Martins. "So I happened to drive by and this worked out perfect for me."
When asked if he was concerned that the company had out of date licensing he answered, "No, I think they're still medical professionals."
At the same time, the department of public health says the crush in demand for testing coupled with staffing shortages dues to the omicron variant means the city has to reduce the number of tests it can process. The city says it's looking to reduce testing by about 4%, or 250 tests out of 6,000. Then a new problem arose when the department announced six testing sites had to close Monday due to a nationwide computer problem with the testing vendor.
The testing debacle couldn't come at a worse time.