San Francisco Shuts Down Gentech's COVID-19 Testing Operations Amid Concerns Over Safety and Drug Market Ties

San Francisco Shuts Down Gentech's COVID-19 Testing Operations Amid Concerns Over Safety and Drug Market TiesSource: Unsplash / Mufid Majnun
Eileen Vargas
Published on November 16, 2023

UPDATE: The original article had incorrectly displayed an image of a sign from another company, whereas the article is about Gentech.

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Gentech, the outdoor COVID-19 testing operator in San Francisco, has ceased all operations following enforcement actions by the City Attorney's Office and accompanying departments. Gentech, known for its green tents and cash payments to the public per test taken, has been operational for several months according to the San Francisco City Attorney.

Worrisome practices, insufficient personal protective equipment, and a lax observance of sanitation protocols led to city officials becoming concerned. The partnership of San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu, Mayor London N. Breed, Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip, and SFPD Chief Bill Scott proved instrumental in ensuring public health and safety by eliminating these operations.

An order issued by San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip on October 11 set standards for sites collecting specimens for COVID-19 and other virus testing. The aim was to maintain infection control and safety standards while preserving public faith. Following her order, a targeted enforcement campaign was launched to enforce compliance and inhibit illicit activities tied to Gentech's operations.

According to Chief Bill Scott of the SFPD, since Gentech’s operations stopped, there has been a drop in the money filtering into illegal drug markets and an improvement in public right-of-way in the downtown corridor. As reported by the San Francisco City Attorney, both the Environmental Health Branch of SFDPH and the SFPD were involved in the enforcement action.

Mayor London Breed discussed how Gentech's testing sites, often located near open-air drug markets, essentially further encouraged dangerous drug transactions and activities through their cash payments. Breed made it clear that public health resources should not exacerbate the city's drug crisis. The joint operations of the City Attorney, the Department of Public Health, and the Police Department successfully curtailed these operations.

City Attorney David Chiu underscored that the integrity of virus testing is crucial, especially as San Francisco heads into winter months, when a surge in demand for testing is expected. Chiu stated that most testing operators in the city are legitimate and crucial to public health services. The availability of health orders and legal tools allowed authorities to weed out any operators taking advantage of the system.

Dr. Susan Philip, Health Officer and Director of Population Health, echoed the need for minimum safety and infection control standards to prevent inadvertent transmission of viruses at testing sites. Public engagement with verified testing providers is essential to maintaining confidence in both the testing process and outcomes.

San Franciscans should know that the Health Order mandates testing providers collaborate with community entities in the city, such as government agencies, schools, and healthcare providers. More information about COVID-19 testing can be accessed at the City and County of San Francisco website.