File under: We should have seen this coming. With at-home test kits scarce, appointments impossible to find, and lines snaking around blocks at city-authorized walk-up sites, some enterprising but shady characters have launched pop-up COVID testing sites around town that are not at all legit.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health put out an alert Friday saying, "Unauthorized COVID-19 test sites are popping up throughout the City. We know demand for testing is high. Please use authorized testing sites or FDA-approved rapid tests."
If you can't find an at-home test at a pharmacy, you can contact your primary care physician, or go to a city-sponsored testing site, of which there are many — though not all of them operate every day. And if you don't know if a testing site that you see is legit, check to see if they're listed on that city map — and you'll probably know if they're trying to charge you money for a test.
Unauthorized COVID-19 test sites are popping up throughout the City. We know demand for testing is high. Please use authorized testing sites or FDA-approved rapid tests. Go to your provider first, if you have one, or check out testing sites in SF at https://t.co/BpmMAW3Jxy.— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) January 7, 2022
Also, officially confirming whether or not you may have COVID — especially if you are asymptomatic — is becoming less and less necessary, unless you need to be in a group setting or around vulnerable people in the next week. If you know you were exposed, and if you are showing mild symptoms, you should just isolate anyway and assume you have it — and try to get a home rapid test to confirm if you can.
Anecdotally, SFist has been hearing about test sites turning people away because they've run out of testing supplies, and lines that last for hours to get tested. Also, to the point of this all being sort of pointless, we're hearing about extreme delays in getting test results back. At one Union Square site, people reported a six-day wait in getting results, which makes getting the test all but useless.
Still, some people — especially the unvaccinated — are getting very sick from the Omicron variant, and the case numbers in SF continue skyrocketing. Given that the official numbers are likely an extreme undercount, given the barriers to getting tested and the widespread use of at-home tests, you should just assume for a couple of weeks that Omicron is every that you are outside the house.
Mask up, preferably with an N95 or KN95, and do your best to stay safe.
Photo: Alessandro Biasciolli/Getty Images