SF official calls to diversify COVID testing after system failure shut down Bay Area sites

Color Health's system outage forced almost all COVID testing sites in SF to close Monday, in addition to other Bay Area sites.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Color outage highlights need to demonopolize COVID testing
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COVID-19 cases are surging in California. What's making matters worse, is the system outage by Color Health, which impacted several Bay Area cities.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Coronavirus cases are surging throughout the state of California. What's making matters worse, is the system outage by Color Health. It's the company 10 California counties have a contract with to provide testing.

"Obviously it was extraordinarily concerning. It's had a major impact in the last 24 hours in our ability to provide testing for people," said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health for the City and County of San Francisco.

San Francisco is facing an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases with 149 cases per 100,000 people. The city's Director of Health stressed the need for more testing, but didn't give a timeline as to when the city's sites ran by Color will be up.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Color outage sends patients home after thousands waited, some for 5 hours, to get tested for COVID

"We've been working with Color and doing everything we can to support them in getting their system up as quickly as possible," said Dr. Grant Colfax.

Shamann Walton, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, is using this setback as an opportunity to highlight the need to demonopolize testing.

"We should always have contracts with more than one provider. So, when something like this happens, and someone's system goes down, we are not affected as a city," said Walton.

VIDEO: System failure forces closure of 6 SF COVID testing sites

At San Francisco's Alemany Farmer's Market and Southeast Health Center, Color and San Francisco's health department offered free, at-home test kits to make up for Color's canceled appointments and closed sites.

"You would think that if a system is down they would have worked all night to fix that," said Jeanette Cordero, San Francisco resident.

"The city should do a better job to ship these out to the families so we can do these at home when we need it, and not have to come and do all this. You do expose more people," San Francisco resident Tony Salinas said.

VIDEO: California National Guard members arrive to help at Bay Area COVID testing sites

In Alameda County, where Color services three sites, the county confirmed some of these locations is registering people by hand as problems persist. In Hayward, one of the sites that closed Monday after Color's system failure said the system is back up, but now they are hesitant.

"The only thing we can't control is the Color lab system breaking down. That doesn't belong to us. They are contracted by various counties to do this work, and we just hope that they can sustain the uptick in numbers so people can get tested," said Aaron Ortiz, CEO of La Familia.

RELATED: Long wait time for COVID testing, limited testing supplies add to frustration in North Bay

On Tuesday at 5:12 p.m., Color Health replied to ABC7 News confirming their system issues have been resolved.

"On Monday, January 10, we managed delays that impacted our software for patient registration and sample collection. These issues have now been resolved. Despite the delays on Monday, Color successfully collected a high volume of samples across all of our testing programs in California and across the country. We have expanded capacity to support our partners as they care for their populations throughout this surge in cases.

We take our commitments to our partners seriously, and we are dedicated to continuing to deliver these vital public health resources."