System outage sends patients home after thousands waited, some for 5 hours, to get tested for COVID

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Thousands of people across the Bay Area have been on the hunt for a COVID testing site while others who were lucky to find open slots are having to wait hours to get tested.

"Waited about five and a half hours total. In the last 20 minutes they finally let about 15 cars. I was the very last car," said James Murphy, Hayward resident.

In Hayward the line stretched for over two miles.

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"It's blocking the freeway, unfortunately, and people here have been waiting three to four hours," said Aaron Ortiz, CEO of La Familia organization.

While many waited hoping to get tested, volunteers had to break the news to hundreds of people. The site had to close after an unexpected system failure with the Color health software.

"Unfortunately, we are having to turn the public away," said Ortiz and added, "I'm extremely sad for the community because right now we need to get people tested. We need the state to support and we need help now."

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We drove to Fremont, where Bay Area Community Health volunteers were faced with the same setback. Instead of closing the site, they began registering hundreds of people by hand.

"It can be tedious because we have 200 to 300 and maybe 400 patients per day," said David Nguyen with Bay Area Community Health.

We met Aaron Dishno in line. For him, getting tested today was vital.

"One of my housemates tested positive and we just found out yesterday," said Dishno and added, "It's been a bit of a challenge to find testing today. We've gone around to a few places. We started looking for at home tests but we couldn't find them any anywhere."

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We left Fremont and drove to San Francisco, where Color Health confirmed six sites closed due to by their system outage.

In a statement Color Health responded:
"We have temporarily suspended service through the end of today at our San Francisco testing sites to ensure that people do not have to wait unnecessarily. We are managing intermittent outages that have impacted our patient registration and sample collection software, and our team is actively working to resolve this situation. We will restore service at these locations as soon as possible. For anyone whose appointments were postponed today, Color will be in touch with alternative testing options. Please do not access these sites for testing at this time. Do not call 911 or go to the emergency room unless it's a medical emergency. We apologize for the stress and inconvenience this has caused.
We will continue to deliver this vital public health resource in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and these community sites. They have been tremendous leaders throughout the pandemic and throughout this latest surge."

The 24th Street site in San Francisco is not connected to Color. They stayed open with a line that covered multiple blocks.

"People start lining up at 6 a.m. and we open at 9 a.m. The demand for testing is just ridiculous right now," said Joselin Payan, site lead coordinator with Unidos En Salud.

With the influx of testing they had to close hours early to process everybody.

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Luz Rodriguez and her eight-year-old daughter were glad they made it to the front of the line after waiting for five hours.

"Five hours is a long time. It's too much," said Rodriguez.

Her daughter Itzel Diaz missed school today, "Yeah because I had to do the COVID test," said Diaz.

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