coronavirus testing

Oakland, SF Open Free Drive-Thru Testing Sites for Most Vulnerable

People who test positive may be offered a hotel room to quarantine in order to prevent the spread of the virus in their household, San Francisco city officials said.

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Three additional new COVID-19 coronavirus testing sites will open in San Francisco, all aimed at serving people in the some of the city's neediest areas, Mayor London Breed announced Monday.

The new sites, which open this week, include a mobile testing site, one at City College of San Francisco and another to serve the city's Bayview and Hunters Point communities.

Combined, all three sites are capable of conducting more than 500 additional COVID-19 tests per day, on top of the tests already being conducted at other sites already open.

"This 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," Breed said in a statement.

"As we continue toward universal testing, it's critical that we focus on reaching communities that have historically been under-served and that don't have as many testing resources available to them," she said.

"Today, we are taking another step towards ensuring equitable access to testing for San Franciscans," the city Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said.

"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," Colfax said. "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."

The mobile testing program launching this week is the first such one in the city. Starting Wednesday, it will begin offering walk-thru COVID-19 testing in the Tenderloin neighborhood, operating outside the Tenderloin Recreation Center at 570 Ellis St., although appointments made online are strongly encouraged.

The mobile site, which can conduct several hundred tests per day, will then move to another high-risk neighborhood in the future, according to city officials.

The testing site at City College is part of a statewide effort to increase testing and will begin Monday at the school's Student Health Center for any California resident. COVID-19 testing at the site is available by appointment only.

The City College site is capable of conducting around 130 tests daily, city officials said.

The COVID-19 testing site for residents in the Bayview and Hunters Point areas will be done Wednesday through Friday of this week, and continue every Friday after that. Under this program, residents can pre-register for testing and receive a telehealth visit or have a live visit with a clinician prior to testing.

People who test positive may be offered a hotel room to quarantine in order to prevent the spread of the virus in their household, city officials said.

For more information about testing, residents can visit https://sf.gov/find-out-how-get-tested-coronavirus.

The map from the Alameda County’s COVID-19 website shows the zip code 94621 in East Oakland is a hotspot and is among the highest number of cases. 

That’s exactly why the city opened its latest drive-thru testing site.

“We’re excited to be a site right here in the community,” said Dr. Jacqueline Thompson, from the Allen Temple Baptist Church.

Normally, this parking lot outside the church in East Oakland is filled with cars belonging to parishioners. But on Monday, it was filled with traffic cones, tents and signs directing people where to pull up to get tested for COVID 19. 

“That swab they put up in your nostril, it seemed like it goes all the way to the top of your brain,” said Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid. 

The brief discomfort was worth it, said Reid, who was relieved to know he tested negative.  

“Everybody in my household got tested and they all came back negative,” he said

In the Bay Area’s quest to improve access to testing, city leaders are building pop-up testing sites in underserved neighborhoods, where many people are uninsured, undocumented or both. 

“In Alameda County, we know that African-Americans are dying at twice the rate of any other group,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Pastor Michael McBride is the founder of Masks 4 the People, a non-profit that received a $1 million donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to help hand out masks and hand sanitizer to the most vulnerable. His motto to his community- Lead by example. 

“I think people need to see our faith leaders, elected officials, other influencers getting tested to de-stigmatize the test,” McBride said. “I’m glad I got tested.”

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