Free Post-Holiday Coronavirus Testing in San Francisco

The three-day event is being held at neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest by the virus

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Free testing is being ramped up in parts of San Francisco that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus.

The three-day event of free testing comes amid a surge in cases and hospitalizations during the holiday season. It is part of a partnership between UCSF and the Latino Task Force to make sure those who are most likely to get COVID-19 have access to testing.

The corner of 24th and Mission streets in San Francisco will serve through Tuesday as one of four additional free COVID-19 testing sites around the city.

"A lot of the people who are heavily hit are the essential workers who are out in the community," said Carina Marquez, an infectious disease doctor at UCSF.

A UCSF study showed an 11% test positivity rate in September, which at the time was nearly quadruple the rate of the city overall. That is why accessible testing during the holiday season is even more crucial to the community.

"We know that telling people to really stay at home and not see anyone is not practical," said Javier Vasquez, a testing site coordinator. "So we're really working with the situation at hand and really work with 'what is' instead of 'what should be.'"

The testing is free and residents can drop in without an appointment. Each person is given a rapid test, which provides results within the hour, and a standard PCR test, which is more accurate but cannot provide results for 24 hours or longer.

Individuals with positive results are contacted and directed to the necessary resources to help them safely quarantine.

"Part of it is not only supporting those people, but also preventing onward transmission by helping them to isolate safely, and giving them help on how to do so in their household," Marquez said.

About 500 people were tested Sunday at the 24th and Mission site, which is the minimum goal for Monday and Tuesday. But the ultimate goal is to inform people about positive results as quickly as possible to help slow the spread of the virus.

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