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

Site Software

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. 

iPads must be running iOS 13 or iOS 14. For example, the 10.2” Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad, model MYN32LL/A works well. We recommend you also download the Google Chrome iOS app.

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.

Testing Days

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.

Registering participants

Participants can register one of three ways:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Log in to Color at home.color.com/sign-in
  2. Confirm participant information
  3. Scan or type in the participant barcode
  4. Gather the participant’s collected sample
  5. 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.

Ordering, Storing, and Shipping Test Kits

As a testing site administrator, you’ll need to make sure that test kits and ship-back materials are not damaged onsite and are shipping within 24 hours of sample collection. 

Your district will either select centralized fulfillment, where the district distributes kits, or decentralized fulfillment, where Color sends kits to each school directly. Each district can request kit volume based on its anticipated needs within a cap based on enrollment data.


After testing starts, Color will automatically ship kits and ship-back materials every two weeks. Based on your fulfillment model, kits will arrive at your district or school within five days of shipment. Site administrators will receive shipping confirmation emails.


If your district or site wants to decrease testing volume, adjust the quantity of ship-back materials, or has less than 15% of your requested kit volume before testing starts, fill out our support form. If you’d like to increase your testing volume or request an extra one-time shipment, reach out to the CDPH Testing Task Force at testing.taskforce@state.ca.gov for approval then include your approval language in a Color support form request.

Color will automatically ship your initial kit and ship-back materials. This includes one week’s kits plus 10%. After your first shipment, you’re responsible for ordering those materials via our ALOM portal. Site administrators will receive access and instructions for this tool via email. You can use our inventory template to determine how much to order.

Individual Test Kits


  1. Swab
  2. Tube 
  3. Barcode card
  4. Small sample biohazard bag
  5. 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

Unused 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).

Collected Samples

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.


For an in-depth overview of the steps you need to take to set up your site and begin testing, you can also watch this video. You can download this video’s presentation here.


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:

  1. Return shipping boxes
    1. Dimensions: 12″x12″x10″ (holds 100 kits) or 12″x12″x20″ (holds 200 kits)
    2. Weight when packed: 100 test kit box = ~6 lbs, 200 test kit box = ~12 lbs
  1. Large biohazard bag 
  2. UN 3373 sticker
  3. Paper manifest
  4. Backup paper intake forms
  1. Place sealed individual specimen bags into a large biohazard bag. Each shipping tool batch should have its own bag.
    1. Note: The biohazard bag should not contain more than either 100 or 200 individual kits, depending on the size of your return box.
  2. Write the manifest number on the outside of the bag, include the manifest(s) in the bag, and seal.
  3. Place the large biohazard bags inside the return shipping box. Skip this step if you’re using the COVID-19 Courier Network.
  4. Write the manifest number(s) on the outside of the package.
  5. 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:


  1. 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.
  2. 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 logistics@mobile-med.com and abigail@mobile-med.com.
    • 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.

Shipping address

All samples should be shipped attention to:

CDPH Valencia Branch Lab
28454 Livingston Ave
Valencia, CA 91355

Dashboard Results

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.

First, create an account at home.color.com/create-account. Then, log in at home.color.com/admin/covid-dashboard. It may take a few days for your dashboard access to be authorized, so check back if it’s not immediately available.