UCSF Contracts With Color to Expand Access to Free COVID-19 Testing for Employees and Students 

Increased Testing Capacity Will Help Provide a Safe and Healthy Environment for University Employees, Learners, Patients and Families

By Laura Kurtzman

Color testing kit

UCSF will provide Color test kits to staff and employees with a a nasal swab and an envelope to return the sample in. Image courtesy of Color

UC San Francisco has contracted with health technology company Color to expand access to free COVID-19 testing for employees and students. 

The new testing program adds to UCSF’s multifaceted response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to its role as frontline patient care provider and medical science research center, UCSF continues to advocate for preventive measures to manage the pandemic.

For example, the University recently announced a partnership with 100 top U.S. hospitals for the national “#MaskUp” campaign, which urges people to wear face masks to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The University has also launched health screening programs for staff and students, an initiative to support working parents and caregivers, protocols for safely working onsite and regular town halls to help inform the community. 

Beginning Nov. 30, 2020, UCSF will provide, on average, up to 1,000 COVID-19 tests per week to employees and students who have either recently traveled or experienced a high-risk exposure. 

“Members of the UCSF community are on the front line of the national COVID-19 response,” said Ralph Gonzales, MD, MSPH, associate dean for clinical innovation and chief innovation officer for UCSF Health. “While we await a vaccine, we need fast, accurate COVID-19 testing to continue our essential work caring for patients, educating students and trainees, and conducting research to combat the spread of the virus.”

The program has begun testing asymptomatic onsite workers and learners at UCSF’s San Francisco and Fresno campuses, and will add testing at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland very soon.

“Our testing is currently focused on those who recently returned from travel outside the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area or four-county Fresno area, as well as those who engaged in high-risk activities, such as attending large gatherings or social gatherings without masking,” said Kim Scurr, Vice President of Operations for UCSF Health, who led the asymptomatic testing effort across UCSF’s different campuses.

UCSF will provide Color test kits to staff and employees at pre-designated UCSF locations. People who use the kits will self-administer a nasal swab, place the sample in an envelope included in the kit, then return the sample to any of the designated on-site drop boxes. Test results will be returned via Color’s digital platform within two days.

Already, the University provides free COVID-19 testing for members of the UCSF community who are symptomatic, and it has enacted an enterprise-wide policy requiring all personnel working or learning at UCSF to self-report positive COVID-19 test results to the appropriate department. Color is also providing tests for UCSF students, faculty and staff who are selected each week to be part of the University’s random Asymptomatic Testing Program (rATP), which supplements targeted COVID testing at UCSF with background surveillance.

“Across the country, leaders are watching UCSF as a model for best practices in the pandemic response,” said Color CEO Othman Laraki. “We are pleased to be able to help UCSF improve access to fast, accurate COVID-19 testing that can easily integrate with the University’s existing system and ramp up when it’s time to scale.”

About Color: Color is a leader in distributed health care and clinical testing. Color makes population-scale healthcare programs accessible, convenient, and cost-effective for everyone. Color works with health systems, employers, and national health initiatives around the world including the million-person All of Us Research Program by the National Institutes of Health. For more information about Color and its response to COVID-19, visit www.color.com.

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area.