SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – COVID testing remains limited in San Francisco as appointments quickly fill up and at-home rapid tests fly off the shelves.

City leaders say even if they wanted to open more testing sites, that wouldn’t solve the problem saying the main issue is the supply of test kits.

Available COVID testing appointments are few and far between in San Francisco at the start of the new year as families scramble to get tested after the holidays.

While it’s not required, all students are also encouraged to get tested before returning to school. However, judging by comments online and emails we’ve received, some still weren’t able to find available testing options in time.

When trying to schedule an appointment online through the city’s website, you’ll even be greeted by a message saying the city is experiencing high demand.

City Supervisor Ahsha Safai says the issue isn’t the number of testing sites open, but instead a shortage in the supply chain.

“We have a lot of good accessibility. Problem is the infrastructure, the actual tests themselves. It’s a supply chain thing that has caused some delays,” Safai said. 

Safai says the shortage of testing kits has forced several city testing sites to stop taking walk-ins over the last few days.

“In some places where there are walk-ups and appointments available, or no appointments available, they basically reached capacity and had to turn people away. I think there’s been a major surge in people that need testing and it’s put a strain on the system,” Safai said. 

As for those who have been able to get tested through a walk-in appointment, many also had to test their patience.

“Had a number of people call in who said they had to wait in line for about an hour. Over in the Bayview for a testing site there, that’s where I went last week. I went to the Bayview Opera House after going to a few locations that had reached capacity,” Safai said. 

Safai says the city’s waiting to receive test kits from the state to distribute to public school students, staff and families but expects to have them at some point later this week.

In the meantime, as we wait for more tests to become available, going back to the basics, like wearing a mask, socially distancing, getting vaccinated and boosted, will be important to prevent a continued surge.