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COVID: Omicron-Fueled Case Surge Leads to SF Scramble For Testing

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- While San Francisco is increasing the COVID testing capacity at one of its main sites, the high demand for drop-ins due to the omicron-fueled COVID case surge has many being turned away at the gate.

More than 20,000 tests are being conducted per week at San Francisco Department of Public Health affiliated sites.

The city expected the high demand during the holidays, but many are still being told no tests are available.

"I tried to make an appointment, but I didn't see anything available," said one San Francisco resident.

At-home testing kits are hard to find. Drop-in tests are last minute options, but the lines and waits can be long.

"I think it's a lot more crowded today as you can see," said Niral Dehruv.

"Right now they're only accepting those who made appointments online," said another resident.

Dehruv's preschooler isn't required to test in order to go back to school and wasn't showing any symptoms, but her parents being extra cautious after a holiday trip.

"They say it's milder, but even then as a parent you have that concern for your child and hope they don't fall ill," said Dehruv.

Chair of the UCSF Department of Medicine Dr. Bob Wachter says not all children need to be tested before going back to school.

"I don't think they need to be tested unless they have symptoms but for unvaccinated kids then it may be worthwhile testing," said Wachter.

At least 20 of the 40 city-affiliated sites allow for drop-ins, but health officials say when one site can't offer a test, residents are redirected to other sites.

Niral's family says they've had better luck walking in instead of driving in for drop-in tests.

"Generally it's a quick walk-in or you can easily get appointments," said Dehruv.

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