Mayor London Breed Announces New COVID-19 Testing Sites in Underserved Areas
Three new testing opportunities—a mobile site initially stationed in the Tenderloin, a site at City College, and another in Hunters View—bring testing resources to neighborhoods that are underserved and bolster San Francisco’s capacity to test workers and people experiencing a symptom of the virus
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced the creation of three new COVID-19 testing opportunities in San Francisco, including the City’s first mobile testing site and testing for families in Hunters View. Increasing access to testing is an important part of the City’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in San Francisco. The expanded testing opportunities is another step toward the City’s goal of universal access to testing for all San Franciscans.
Equity has been a central focus of the City’s COVID-19 emergency response, and ensuring access to testing is an important part of that ongoing effort. The new testing sites are part of the City’s efforts to reach communities that are affected by disparities in the spread of the coronavirus and provide additional testing resources in areas of the city that do not currently have as many testing options. Combined, the new sites will add capacity to conduct over 500 additional COVID-19 tests per day.
“These new testing sites help make testing more convenient and accessible for San Franciscans, especially people who are most at-risk and communities that have been hardest hit by the virus,” said Mayor Breed. “As we continue toward universal testing, it’s critical that we focus on reaching communities that have historically been underserved and that don’t have as many testing resources available to them.”
Any worker that serves San Francisco and who leaves their home to work can get tested for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms or exposure. Any person living in San Francisco with at least one symptom of COVID-19 or who has been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 can get tested. For more information about COVID-19 testing, contact your primary health care provider, call 311, or visit SF.gov/GetTestedSF.
“Today, we are taking another step towards ensuring equitable access to testing for San Franciscans,” said Dr. Colfax. “By strengthening our efforts in neighborhoods that we know are most vulnerable to severe impacts of the virus, we continue to help people get the care they need and slow the spread of the virus. Not only does testing expansion help identify cases more rapidly and inform outbreak detection, it also continues to be an essential part of our overall strategy towards recovery.”
“Testing is critical and we need to make it as convenient for our residents and workers as possible,” said Supervisor Norman Yee. “That’s why we advocated for more testing sites to serve westside neighborhoods. We are grateful for this unique partnership with City College and with the State to expand our capacity.”
“A new testing site in our community is a major win in the fight against COVID-19,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. “As the zip code with the second highest rate of COVID infections in the City, I am glad the state has identified 94112 as a priority and is offering free testing to all California residents. I hope this resource helps to stop the growth of COVID in our City.”
“COVID-19 has hit our most vulnerable communities,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “More testing helps us identify those who need critical medical services while protecting all of us from this deadly virus. We have to get to 100% asymptomatic testing, but this is a major step forward.”
“A testing site in the Tenderloin will help ensure that testing is easily accessible and available to those who need it most,” said Supervisor Matt Haney. “We need to be able to identify, isolate, and track people exposed to the virus in order to provide the protection and treatment necessary to keep people safe and start opening the city back up. Tenderloin residents are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 with many unhoused residents as well as people living in SROs with shared facilities and shelters. The neighborhood has many essential workers, people with underlying medical conditions, and seniors. I am collaborating closely with City departments and community partners, and I am grateful for everyone coming together to make this happen.”
Mobile Testing Site
The City is collaborating with Verily to operate a mobile COVID-19 testing site, which is the first mobile testing site in San Francisco. The site will begin offering walk-through COVID-19 testing in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 20. It will initially operate at the Tenderloin Recreational Center, after which it will move to another high-need neighborhood.
The mobile testing site has the capacity to conduct several hundred tests per day. Online appointments are strongly encouraged; however, staff from GLIDE and Code Tenderloin will be onsite to register individuals who have barriers to registering online. GLIDE and Code Tenderloin will help create a familiar and welcoming presence at the testing site.
Verily’s Baseline COVID-19 Program provides a connected solution to support individuals from screening through testing and receipt of their test results. Verily developed The Baseline COVID-19 Program working closely with state and local government health authorities and other private health organizations to expand access to COVID-19 screening and testing in areas with a high volume of known cases. To date, the platform has supported the testing of over 100,000 people nationally.
For each deployment of the mobile testing site, the City and Verily will collaborate with trusted community organizations, to help raise awareness about the site and connect people to other services. While the mobile site is located in the Tenderloin, the City will be working with GLIDE and Code Tenderloin to conduct community outreach about the site and ensure the site remains safe and accessible for everyone in the neighborhood.
“COVID-19 is bringing new dimensions to the crisis of homelessness in San Francisco and solutions are more complex than ever before,” said Karen Hanrahan, President and CEO of GLIDE. “Comprehensive testing is a foundational piece of our efforts to understand how this pandemic is impacting the most vulnerable, and to protect everyone in the city from what could be a catastrophic spread of the virus. As we have from day one of this crisis, GLIDE will continue to step up to meet rising demand across the city, remain on the front lines serving those most in need, and provide solutions that offer protection, dignity and safety to all San Franciscans.”
“Code Tenderloin is extremely grateful the community voices were heard in District 6,” said Del Seymour and Donna Hilliard from Code Tenderloin. “We believe that with everyone working together we will have a better chance at defeating Covid-19. Thank you Director Sheryl Davis and everyone else involved in the Human Rights Commission Community Roundtable. A coordinated effort with all our organizations can rebuild our community, and this testing is just the beginning. We look forward to giving all of our efforts to fighting this pandemic.”
Testing Site at City College
A second COVID-19 testing site will open today at the City College Student Health Center. This site is open to any California resident and is part of the State’s efforts to increase testing access in areas with the highest need. The State identified zip codes throughout California that have a lack of COVID-19 testing access, including the 94112 zip code in San Francisco, which encompasses the Excelsior and OMI neighborhoods. The City’s Emergency Operations Center has worked with the State to operationalize this additional testing resource in the city.
The site offers COVID-19 testing by appointment and is operated by OptumServe, which is funded through a contract with the State of California. It has the capacity to conduct around 130 tests per day.
“This is one of the many creative ways our campus can continue serving the people of San Francisco, even as we teach our students remotely,” said Dianna Gonzales, Interim Chancellor of City College of San Francisco. “We are happy to be partnering with the State of California and the City of San Francisco to help secure the health and safety of our community.”
Testing in Bayview-Hunters Point
The City continues to focus on areas that have been disproportionately impacted, which includes the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. In addition to having one of the highest rates of cases in the City, there are unique risk factors inherent to many families in this community, including higher rates of multigenerational households, chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, transient housing, and essential workers. In order to support vulnerable communities served by the Bayview Child Health Center, the City and partner organizations will be bringing testing directly to families in their neighborhood from Wednesday, May 20, through Friday, May 22, and continuing every Friday thereafter for the foreseeable future.
Testing will occur in conjunction with preexisting social services programming in the Hunters View community. Residents will have the option of pre-registering for testing and receiving a telehealth visit or signing up same day and having a live visit with a clinician prior to testing. Anyone testing positive will have access to a hotel room to quarantine in order to prevent the spread of the virus within their household. Additionally, mask and hand sanitizer will be distributed as part of hygiene kits provided along with food distribution and educational resources for children. This initiative builds upon HOPE SF and the Human Rights Commission’s work to lead with community and uplift a culturally competent and inclusive approach to the City’s disaster response.
“It is most unfortunate that the African-American community is already behind because we have not had comprehensive testing in our communities,” said Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, Third Baptist Church. “To that end, our interfaith community has pledged to push for comprehensive and responsible testing so we could first find out the extent to which this virus has had on the African-American community. Secondly, we are also advocating for the preparation of adequate hospital services to ensure health and healing for an already undeserved community. We continue to work with the City to expand access to testing and health resources during these unprecedented times.”
COVID-19 Testing in San Francisco
As important as testing is, it is just one piece of an overall approach to fight the coronavirus. It is just as crucial to prevent getting sick in the first place. That includes staying at home, physical distancing, covering your face when you are around other people, and frequent hand washing. It is equally important to develop strong systems to respond to the pandemic, including a well-prepared hospital system to handle a surge of cases, an effective contact tracing system to reduce spread and limit exposure, and sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment for health care workers and patients.
San Francisco began local COVID-19 testing in the Public Health Lab on March 2, 2020 and has been continually expanding testing capacity. Below are a few examples of the City’s additional testing expansions to date:
- The City opened two CityTestSF sites for symptomatic frontline workers and essential workers as well as San Franciscans who are uninsured or have barriers to health care access. CityTestSF will test frontline workers and essential workers without symptoms, close contacts to confirmed COVID-19 cases without symptoms, and anyone living in the city with one symptom consistent with COVID-19.
- DPH has opened test sites in the community at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Castro-Mission Health Center, Southeast Health Center and Maxine Hall Health Center. In addition, DPH Jail Health Services tests all people coming into the jail who will be housed in jail.
- DPH announced on May 1st that all residents and staff working at the 21 skilled nursing facilities in San Francisco will be tested for the COVID-19 virus.
- San Francisco now has at least 28 public and private testing sites across the city at UCSF, NEMS, One Medical, Kaiser, Sutter, Chinese Hospital, and Dignity Health.
- The City is working with partners, such as UCSF and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, on COVID-19 testing. There is research underway that uses testing to help us learn more about the prevalence of the virus in the community.