Computer problems shut down COVID testing sites in San Francisco, Hayward – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – After already temporarily cutting hours at several COVID testing sites in San Francisco due to staffing issues, nationwide IT issues have forced health officials to shut down six centers completely Monday afternoon test, and the service could be suspended for even longer.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health tweeted at 1:30 p.m. that computer problems with the city’s COVID-19 testing partner Color were leading to the shutdown of a number of sites.

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On Monday evening, Palo-Alto-based Color tweeted that the service would be suspended until Tuesday due to outages and that people with rescheduled appointments would be contacted with alternative testing options.

Computer difficulties weren’t isolated in San Francisco.

The closed test sites were Alemany, SOMA (7th / Brannan), Southeast Health Center, 20 Norton, Ella Hill Hutch and Bayview Opera House.

“We are working with Color to welcome those who had an appointment today,” read a subsequent tweet. “We will provide updates as we learn more and have the next steps. “

Residents have been advised to refer to an online list of other testing sites in San Francisco.

Color shared the following statement regarding the outage:

“We have temporarily suspended service until the end of today at our San Francisco test sites to make sure people don’t have to wait unnecessarily. We are dealing with intermittent outages that have impacted our patient registration and specimen collection software, and our team is actively working to resolve this situation. We will restore service to these locations as soon as possible. For anyone whose appointments have been rescheduled today, Color will be in touch with alternative testing options. Please do not access these sites for testing purposes at this time. Do not call 911 or go to the emergency room unless it is a medical emergency. We apologize for the stress and inconvenience caused.

The issues have also emerged in Hayward, another city that has partnered with Color for its COVID testing sites.

The problems started around 9 a.m. Monday morning at the Cherryland COVID testing center on Mission Boulevard in Hayward when nurses noticed a slowdown in the computer system. The registration process, which can normally be completed in seconds, took over ten minutes per patient.

The Hayward site was also using Color Labs, whose website repeatedly went frozen and was unresponsive Monday morning.

The system worked intermittently before staff decided to shut down the site early Monday afternoon at around 1 p.m.

“We created it! Thank goodness!” exclaimed McGee. “They said they were going to cancel everything. We weren’t happy about that.

At 1 p.m., non-profit service provider La Familia – which runs the site – shut it down and told the hundreds of people in line to go home. La Familia CEO Aaron Ortiz said the site had similar issues last week.

“We will need to have a meeting with the state lab and we will need to have a meeting with the county to determine what the next steps are,” he said. “We just can’t keep this happening in the community. Or I’ll have to see if I can change labs.

Rosa Cruz waited several hours for a test before becoming one of the repressed. Her employer demands a negative test before she can return to work.

“There is nothing we can do. So we’re not going to be available to go to work, ”said Cruz.

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Ortiz said Color should be able to deliver its services as promised, despite the increased demand for testing.

“I understand that we have a power surge and the system is overloaded,” Ortiz said. “But at the same time, if you want to take on this job, you have to be ready and you have to be ready to take on this kind of load.”

Frustration grew as more people tried to find a way to get a COVID test with varying degrees of success.

“I was going to visit family and when I went to try to book one, I couldn’t do it until two weeks later,” said Clare Fonstein of Walnut Creek. “The ones that were fast, available now, you had to pay, so it was pretty hard to figure out. ”

Dave Jah was visiting the bay from Los Angeles. He recently went through the stress of taking a test to see his brother.

“Both in San Diego where he goes to school and us in LA – within a 5 mile radius we can’t find any tests,” he said.

Back in San Francisco, the public health department had earlier announced it was suffering from a worker shortage linked to an increase in omicron cases among staff, forcing the department to temporarily cut back hours out of four. test sites.

Health officials said the short-term reduction would result in a loss of around 250 tests administered per day. The current 7-day average on SFDPH affiliate sites is 6,000 tests administered per day.

“(The) SFDPH-affiliated test sites will be temporarily affected by reduced hours due to staff shortages related to COVID and due to increased processing times for test results given the high demand from laboratories to across the country, “health officials said in a statement. Press release.

One of the sites, the South East Health Center, will see a reduction in hours on Monday only and then resume normal operating hours on Tuesday.

The other three sites affected are:

  • Ella Hill Hutch – 3 hour reduction in the afternoon – new hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Alemany – a two-hour reduction in the evening – new hours: 8 am-6pm
  • SOMA (7th / Brannan) – a reduction of three hours in the morning from Tuesday – new hours: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

With a surge in demand for tests since early December, San Francisco health officials said, the number of tests administered at the sites has doubled.

“We would like to stress that we anticipate this will be a temporary period and that the sites will continue to operate well beyond their designated capacity,” officials said in the press release. In addition, the SFDPH is working to minimize the impact of this temporary reduction by providing additional resources to increase capacity, including more than 150,000 rapid tests which are expected to arrive early this week.

SFDPH affiliated sites currently account for around 60% of tests administered at city sites.

Over the weekend, Dr Susan Ehrlich, chief executive of Zuckerberg San Francisco General, said her emergency department was overwhelmed with people looking for COVID tests.

“We’ve never seen anything like this during the surges we’ve had so far,” she said. “So please don’t call 911 or go into an emergency department either because you want a COVID test or because you have mild symptoms of COVID. “

“Most cases of COVID are mild and you can stay at home,” Ehrlich added. “If you have symptoms, if you feel sick, you need to stay home, take care of yourself, and try to stay as far away from others as possible. “

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Betty Yu contributed to this report

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