San Francisco reduces testing due to staff shortage amid omicron surge

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Amid record-breaking COVID-19 cases and skyrocketing demand for testing, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said Monday it is reducing hours at four testing sites due to staff coming down with the coronavirus.

Mayor London Breed announced last Tuesday testing sites affiliated with the department would expand capacity to more than 25,000 tests a week, almost double its capacity from three weeks ago. 

The sites quickly ramped up and the department said that they have been operating at “500-900% above capacity levels before this surge.”

But the testing sites cannot continue at these levels this week due to COVID-19-related staffing shortages and an increase in processing times for test results amid high demand at laboratories across the country.

We currently estimate that this will reduce SFDPH-capacity by about 4%, or approximately 250 tests per day out of the current 7-day average of 6,000 tests per day at SFDPH-affiliated sites,” the department 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. Updates on the hours of these sites will be shared as we learn more.”

The four department-affiliated testing sites with temporarily reduced hours include:

-Ella Hill Hutch, reduction of three hours in the afternoon. (New hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Southeast Health Center, reduction of three hours in the morning on Monday only. (Monday only: 11am-5pm; then return to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday)

-Alemany, reduction of two hours in the evening. (New hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

-SOMA (Seventh/Brannan), reduction of three hours in the morning beginning Tuesday. (New hours: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.) 

 An average of 1,245 San Franciscans a day are contracting COVID-19 across the past seven days, as of Jan. 2 — compared to the seven-day average of 373 new cases per day during last year’s peak, the city said. Amid the surge, lines wrapped around multiple blocks at COVID-19 testing sites around the San Francisco Bay Area since the start of the year, as everyone from teachers and students to restaurant workers sought testing amid the omicron surge that started over the holidays. 

Amid the testing chaos, we answered some questions you may have here. Please send more questions to [email protected]

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