San Francisco Announces Expanded Contact Tracing Program Amid Pandemic

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax on Wednesday announced a newly expanded contact tracing program, which uses technology to more efficiently communicate with anyone who has been in contact with people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Once identified, specially trained outreach workers will then follow up with those individuals via a mobile app, monitoring their health through the app, as well as text messages and phone calls.

The workers will be checking for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during a 14-day period. Individuals who show symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will then be offered testing.

The program is made possible through a partnership with the University of California at San Francisco.

"We can have people tested that may have been in contact with someone who has been infected. Because our goal is to chase down all of those people and to either help them if they are COVID-19 (positive) and get them into quarantine or to basically give them the relief that they are not infected," Breed said during a news conference Wednesday at the city's Emergency Operations Center.

"From the beginning of this pandemic, we have been using contact tracing," Colfax said. "This is essential today and it's also essential as we ultimately move out of shelter-in-place orders to a new phase of fighting the pandemic."

Breed and Colfax also announced a new COVID-19 testing facility, open to the public by appointment only, in the city's South of Market neighborhood.

CityTestSF-SoMa will be located at 600 Seventh St. and opens Friday as a drive-through site. For now, the facility can test up to 200 people daily, with plans to increase capacity and offer walk-in service within the coming weeks, according to city officials.

San Franciscans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can use the Baseline COVID-19 Program online screener and then make an appointment here.

For now, however, the service will be focused on high-risk populations, in accordance with the California Department of Public Health's guidelines. Anyone who meets the criteria will be tested, regardless of whether they're uninsured or are undocumented.

The site is the second CityTestSF site; with the first being a site at Piers 30-32 that opened last month to test frontline workers.

Health Director Grant Colfax said, "By expanding testing in our city, more people can get the care they need sooner, and reduce the risk of exposure among their families and close contacts."

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