Testing Demand Remains High In Bay Area

Long line forms for free rapid coronavirus tests in Alameda
Photo credit Matt Bigler/KCBS Radio

Demand for COVID-19 testing remains high in the Bay Area.

Bay Area health company Color is performing a high volume of the tests in the region, including at San Francisco’s free City Test site along the Embarcadero.

"At the beginning of March we saw what was happening with COVID testing, saw all of the bottlenecks and all of the issues and decided to kind of mobilize the company and contribute where we could," said Caroline Savello, Chief Commercial Officer for Color. "So we built a high throughput COVID testing lab right next to our existing lab in Burlingame, we repurposed a lot of our software and infrastructure."

The lab is now testing thousands of samples across the Bay Area and working with municipalities and local community organizations.

"Demand is still incredibly high for testing," she said. "There’s been a number of things that’ve happened. We’ve seen obviously the need expand beyond the traditional sites that we’ve been operating...The obvious implications of being asymptomatic - not having symptoms but being positive - I think people are more and more aware of that and the culture of testing, I think, has really increased in the Bay Area."

While the CDC has relaxed guidelines around who should get tested, that might not impact demand in the Bay Area.

"It was pretty surprising to see that change from the CDC around not testing asymptomatic individuals, not testing individuals who’ve had an exposure event. That information is very critical to contact tracing and isolation efforts. So again, the public health impact of that is significant," said Savello.

That is why California’s guidance still encourages anyone who may have been exposed to get a test.

Savello said turnaround times have rebounded from delays earlier this summer and results are now available within a few days.