Mayor London Breed Announces CityTestSF: COVID-19 Testing Site for Frontline Workers
New drive-thru/walk-thru COVID-19 testing site for Police Officers, Firefighters, Sheriff’s Deputies, 911 Dispatchers, health care workers and other City employees will launch in partnership with Color and Carbon Health, allowing for a significant expansion of testing for frontline workers.
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax, and the Director of the Port Elaine Forbes today announced a new dedicated COVID-19 testing facility located at Pier 30-32. The facility will primarily expand testing resources available for critical first responders and health care workers who are essential to the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expanded testing capacity builds on the City’s commitment to protect frontline workers and to increase the City’s ability to combat the spread of the virus.
While the City’s Public Health Order to stay home except for essential needs and essential work remains in effect, a subset of the population, including first responders and health care workers, remain on active duty. Seamless and efficient access to testing is critical to ensure these essential workers get the care and treatment they need if they are exposed to COVID-19, and to prevent additional spread of the disease to others. This CityTestSF facility will enable the City’s frontline workers engaged in the fight against COVID‑19 to continue serving the community while protecting their health and safety, as well of the health and safety of their families, their colleagues, and the public.
“We’re especially concerned with the health of our frontline workers, because they are an essential part of our City’s response to this public health emergency. They are doing the work day in and day out to keep us safe and keep our city running,” said Mayor Breed. “Expanding testing is critical. Our first responders need to know with confidence that they can safely return to work and spend time in their homes with their families, or if the need to isolate and get medical care. We hope that this increased access to testing will help keep our frontline workers and their families healthy, and can provide some additional certainty during this incredibly trying and uncertain time.”
“San Francisco has been ahead of the nation in taking steps to flatten the curve, but we must continue to take advantage of every opportunity to increase testing and ensure that our first responders and health care workers are healthy enough to keep the rest of us safe,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “I am thrilled to support this important effort to protect our front line workers in the fight against this pandemic.”
“Protecting and caring for our first responders and health care workers must be our top priority,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “This CityTestSF facility will ensure that those on the frontlines can easily access testing so that they can continue to protect and care for the rest of us.”
The facility will open and begin drive- and walk-through operations by appointment, starting today, Monday, April 6th. This site will steadily increase capacity and will be able to conduct 200 COVID-19 tests per day by the end of the week.
Testing will be prioritized at first for San Francisco first responders and City health care workers with symptoms of COVID-19 who are currently quarantined and kept away from both work and their families. To date, over 200 frontline sworn staff have been in 14-day quarantine. Having access to expanded testing will mean that frontline staff who have become infected can be identified earlier and get the care they need, and frontline workers who experience flu-like symptoms but are not infected can return to their families and work earlier with the necessary personal protective equipment and workplace safety protocols.
The test will be provided at no cost to employees in partnership with the City’s health care plan providers. Initially, CityTestSF will focus on Sheriff’s sworn staff, police, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, 911 dispatchers, and City health care workers with plans to rapidly expand to other City employees on the frontlines fighting the pandemic. Initially, eligible employees will receive personal invitations for testing. By the end of the week, the City will launch an online system for eligible frontline employees to sign themselves up for testing directly.
The site will quickly ramp up its capacity in order to test all first responders currently in quarantine and then to all those showing symptoms of the virus who are self-isolating at home. Additional groups the City plans to test at this site as capacity grows include San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employees providing essential transit services, staff interacting with seniors and other vulnerable populations (such as homeless individuals), nonprofit workers providing essential services, private ambulance drivers, shelter workers, and staff transferring isolation patients into hotels.
The City is partnering with two Bay Area companies—Color and Carbon Health—to run the testing effort. Color has launched a COVID-19 testing platform and high capacity, CLIA-certified laboratory at its headquarters in Burlingame, California, to support expanded testing for frontline workers. Color’s new laboratory adds capacity to the City’s overall testing efforts, and will provide rapid results within a 24 to 48-hour turnaround time. All test results will be reported to the Department of Public Health.
Carbon Health, headquartered in San Francisco, has supported frontline worker testing efforts across the State of California and is providing their clinical support to the effort at cost. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis Carbon Health has been at the forefront of the pandemic to increase access to care and testing. They provide an online assessment tool and telemedicine screening to risk-stratify patients based on CDC criteria, and offer testing across its Bay Area and Los Angeles clinics.
Expanding San Francisco’s testing capacity is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. CityTestSF is part of San Francisco’s ongoing commitment to rapidly increase its testing capacity while pursuing strategic partnerships, including leveraging the expertise of the San Francisco’s private health care providers. This testing facility will develop and establish a new model for highly accessible, repeatable testing efforts to help ensure the safety of the City’s critical employees, their families, and the people they serve.
On March 27, Mayor Breed announced an initial step to provide prioritized testing for first responders and health care workers. San Francisco first responders and health care workers who are covered under San Francisco Health Service System plans—Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California and UnitedHealthcare— can continue to contact their health care provider to evaluate their symptoms. Upon confirmation that their symptoms indicate that a COVID-19 test is needed, their test will be prioritized along with other tests for high-risk, vulnerable patient classes. Today’s announcement builds on this first step, adding CityTestSF as an additional testing option for eligible frontline workers.
“Every day, the City’s first responders and health care workers are devoting themselves to the health and safety of our community, and this initiative is critical to supporting them,” said Othman Laraki, CEO of Color. “It was important to develop a process that would facilitate access for front-line personnel without increasing the burden on clinical teams, and we are grateful to support the City in this partnership.”
“Since the start of this pandemic, we knew that our responsibility, both as a healthcare provider and a technology company, was to address this problem head-on,” said Eren Bali, Co-Founder and CEO of Carbon Health. “Our goal since day one has been to curtail this virus with widespread testing, and we are proud to be a part of the City’s initiative to begin these efforts in San Francisco.”
“Health care workers and first responders are critical to our ability as a city to slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect community health,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health. “These talented and dedicated people are courageously working on the front lines every day. By providing them dedicated testing, we can assuage anxiety, answer uncertainty and speed their recovery so that they can be with their families and continue to support the health of our city.”
“The Port is so happy to provide this site and very grateful to the Mayor and all city employees for the hard work and dedication I’ve seen in recent weeks,” said Elaine Forbes, the Director of the Port. “Although these are challenging times, I have seen people coming together in a special way and this partnership is another example of how we are all in this together”.
“The Sheriff’s Office is grateful for the leadership and hard work of our City partners that will enable our sworn and professional staff to get tested,” said San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto. “Many of our first responders are sidelined when they show symptoms with COVID-19 or experience prolonged or risky exposure to someone who has COVID-19. With the City’s new dedicated COVID-19 testing, they will get back to work where they want to be, protecting the public and preventing the spread of coronavirus into the community.”
“We’re very thankful that our city has made safeguarding the well-being of San Francisco’s first responders a priority,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “Our City’s police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other first responders provide the first line of public safety for San Francisco residents, visitors and business owners. By providing this testing, we hope to slow the spread of COVID-19 among our members and increase our resiliency so that we can continue to respond to emergencies and protect the health and safety of the public.”
“This is an incredibly helpful tool for the San Francisco Fire Department in the fight against COVID-19. Our firefighters, paramedics and EMTs are on the front lines every day,” said Chief Jeanine Nicholson, San Francisco Fire Department. “This testing site will give us another tool so we can continue to focus on our members’ health and safety, and in turn the health and safety of those we serve.”
“San Francisco’s 911 dispatchers and emergency managers work every day to help keep San Franciscans and our first responders healthy and safe during this global pandemic,” said Mary Ellen Carroll, Executive Director, Department of Emergency Management. “Expanded and convenient access to testing for City’s emergency responders and health care professionals helps San Francisco protect essential personnel tasked with slowing down the spread of COVID-19.”
The City has been working to expand testing capacity, including at the Public Health Lab, hospitals, commercial labs and with community partners, such as NEMS, which opened two drop-in testing sites for their patients last week. The expanded availability of testing is expected to increase the number of positive COVID-19 cases confirmed in San Francisco. As of March 24, San Francisco along with other Bay Area counties issued a health order requiring laboratories performing COVID-19 tests to report all testing data to state and local health authorities. The City is working with UCSF and UC Berkeley to use the data and develop models to understand the spread of virus in the community and inform data driven responses.