Welcome to the COVID-19 Testing Program Guide
Thank you for partnering with the CDPH Valencia Branch Lab and Color to set up a COVID-19 testing program. This guide will cover:
- Software that manages sample collection, return of results, result monitoring and kit ordering
- Ordering, shipping and storing COVID-19 test kits
In order to register people to get tested and to process their tests, you’ll use Color’s software. Below are the steps you’ll need to take to set up your account and to use the software on testing days.
You can also download this pdf for quick set-up instructions.
On testing days your role could cover a number of areas, including registering participants, gathering samples and shipping samples to the lab. More details about those steps can be found below.
Create your Color account
Head to home.color.com/create-account. Enter your organization email, and set up a password.
We’ll send you an email to confirm your email address once you’ve created your account. After confirming, your account is ready for use. On testing days, you’ll log into our onsite tool with your Color account credentials.
Determine your testing schedule
We recommend testing on weekdays, when shipping carriers have regular pickup and drop-off times. Samples must be shipped to the lab within 24 hours of collection.
Each site is initially provided with a week’s supply of testing kits, plus 10%.
Get the technology you’ll need
Color’s software requires internet connectivity via WiFi or cellular service. Please note, you can find instructions on our backup paper intake process in Troubleshooting under “Lost internet connection?” on www.color.com/cdph-site-support.
If you’re using WiFi-only devices like laptops or tablets, make sure you have strong and reliable WiFi coverage in your testing area.
If your WiFi isn’t reliable, we recommend using portable hotspots from a cellular network provider, like this Verizon Jetpack® MiFi® 8800L.
If you’re planning on using cellular devices, like a WiFi + Cellular iPad, be sure to select the appropriate cellular network provider that provides the best coverage for your area, like AT&T or Verizon.
Each site administrator should have their own device. We recommend three devices (and three administrators) for every 250 participants you plan to test per day. We recommend using two devices to register participants in our software and one to scan barcodes as you collect samples.
Android tablets must be running Android version 9, 10, or 11 with the latest updates and the latest version of Google Chrome. For example, the Samsung tablets, such as the Galaxy Tab A 8.4” Cellular, work well.
Laptops should have 1 usable USB-A port if you will be connecting a wired barcode scanner.
We recommend using the latest version of Google Chrome on your devices.
We highly recommend using scanners to automatically capture barcodes and ensure samples are matched to the correct participants. If scanners are not functional for any reason, or if you don’t have access to scanners, you are able to input the information manually.
If you are using an iPad, we recommend using the ScanKey iOS app which enables usage of the iPad’s camera as the barcode scanner from within the virtual keyboard interface.
- To set up ScanKey – Go to the iPad Settings → General → Keyboards and then make sure that only the ScanKey keyboard is there. Delete any other keyboard.
- If ScanKey does not show up in the App Store, please update your iPad to the latest software.
- Here are instructions on how to setup ScanKey on your iPad.
If you are using a handheld scanner, the scanner must scan one-dimensional (1D) barcode labels. We recommend using wired USB scanners, because wireless or bluetooth scanners can be difficult to pair and ensure connectivity throughout the day. If you choose a wired USB scanner, you’ll need a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter for iPad, or a USB OTG adapter, like Micro USB or USB-C, for an Android tablet. Adapters may vary between devices.
Be sure to maintain the battery levels of your devices throughout testing days to enable continuous usage, and consider charging overnight. iPads will require at least a 12-watt (2.4 amp) USB power adapter. If supporting multiple iPads or other USB-charged devices, we recommend using a multi-port USB charger.
On testing days your role could cover a number of areas, including registering participants, gathering samples and shipping samples to the lab. More details about those steps can be found below. You can also download this PDF outlining the steps.
Encourage staff participants to register for testing using the QR code and link we’ll send via email. Participants will provide consent and contact information, and their profiles will automatically populate as ready for check-in each testing day.
Participants can register one of three ways:
- Using a unique URL
Before testing day we will send the organization lead a unique URL so participants can use it to answer questions ahead of time on their own device.
- Using the QR code
We’ll send the organization lead a QR code. Print the QR code and post it at your collection site so participants can scan it using their own device and answer the registration questions.
- Registering onsite
Site staff can register those who have not done so ahead of time. Use the “Add patient” link on Color and ask participants to answer the registration questions verbally during the sample collection process
We encourage you to advise participants to register using the unique URL or QR code so their profiles are saved and automatically populate as ready for check-in each testing day.
Managing participant samples
- Log in to Color at home.color.com/sign-in
- Confirm participant information
- Scan or type in the participant barcode
- Gather the participant’s collected sample
- Package the samples and send to the lab, using the shipping instructions in the next section. Samples must ship within 24 hours of sample collection.
Site Staff Resources
For an in-depth overview of the information you see above, watch this video.
How to collect diagnostic samples using Color
How to collect pooled samples using Color
You can download the video’s presentation here.
Individual Test Kits
- Barcode card
- Small sample biohazard bag
- Absorbent pad
SAFETY WARNING: Do not use bleach products near sample collection kits. Color sample collection kits use PrimeStore transport media (the small amount of liquid in each tube) to stabilize and inactivate the virus. This media contains guanidine thiocyanate, which produces a dangerous chemical reaction that releases cyanide gas when exposed to bleach (sodium hypochlorite).
How to Store Test Kits
Please store unused kits in a secure, shaded area without direct exposure to the sun or heat. The ideal storage temperature is room temperature (72-76 degrees Fahrenheit).
Please store collected kits in a covered bin in a secure, shaded area without direct exposure to the sun or heat. The ideal storage temperature is room temperature (72-76 degrees Fahrenheit). Packaged kits may be deposited in outdoor drop boxes in cold outdoor temperatures.
We strongly recommend shipping collected samples to the lab within 24 hours after collection.
Please note: Kits may not be transferred to a different site or used for any purpose other than for sample collection. For safety reasons and to ensure specimen samples are not contaminated or damaged and results are accurate, unused kits may not be returned to Color once they are delivered to a collection site. Unused collection kits must be destroyed when the testing program ends. Kits have a shelf life of approximately 12 months, with specific expiration dates listed on components of the kits. Kits should be destroyed upon expiration.
Packing and Shipping Samples
Color’s batch shipping tool creates a manifest for each lab shipment.
You can choose how to ship samples to the lab, but any shipping carrier must accept Biological Substances Category B.
There are two sizes of return packages: up to 100 test kits and up to 200 test kits. Each batch includes the following:
- Return shipping boxes
- Dimensions: 12″x12″x10″ (holds 100 kits) or 12″x12″x20″ (holds 200 kits)
- Weight when packed: 100 test kit box = ~6 lbs, 200 test kit box = ~12 lbs
- Large biohazard bag
- UN 3373 sticker
- Paper manifest
- Backup paper intake forms
- Place sealed individual specimen bags into a large biohazard bag. Each shipping tool batch should have its own bag.
- Note: The biohazard bag should not contain more than either 100 or 200 individual kits, depending on the size of your return box.
- Write the manifest number on the outside of the bag, include the manifest(s) in the bag, and seal.
- Place the large biohazard bags inside the return shipping box. Skip this step if you’re using the COVID-19 Courier Network.
- Write the manifest number(s) on the outside of the package.
- Adhere the UN 3373 sticker and if applicable, shipping label.
Collection sites are responsible for arranging shipping for samples to the CDPH Valencia Branch Laboratory. There are two shipping options:
- Use your own courier or transportation service
- Here is a list of couriers.
- Be sure to determine the latest pick-up or drop-off time and requirements for your testing days and location.
- Ensure the courier or transportation service is authorized to ship Category B Infectious Substances.
- Drop-off samples at a CCN drop-box near you
- The California Courier Network (CCN) is available for sites in the vicinity of these drop-off boxes.
- If you’ve been approved as a State partner, please direct questions on CCN drop-boxes to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please note, CCN requires that packaged samples ship in large biohazard bags with the manifests included in the bag and the manifest number(s) written on the outside of the bag, rather than a box.
All samples should be shipped attention to:
If you’re the organization lead, you automatically have access to the results dashboard. If you’re not the lead, please reach out to your lead to request access to Color dashboards.
The organization lead / dashboard administrator will have access to the access management tool, which allows them to edit user access to program dashboards. For more information about this tool, visit the Color knowledge base.