All essential workers in San Francisco will now have access to free COVID-19 coronavirus testing, whether they're showing symptoms or not, Mayor London Breed announced Monday.
The expanded testing went into effect Monday at sites on Seventh Street in the South of Market neighborhood and Piers 30-32 along the waterfront and applies to people like health care workers, first responders, grocery store employees, construction workers, drivers, child care workers, and anyone else who has to work with the public during the shelter-in-place order.
Because the testing is free, workers won't need to be referred to it by their doctor, according to the mayor's office.
"San Francisco's essential workers have kept our city going for months now during the pandemic response," Breed said in a statement.
"They continue to show up every day, often at great personal risk, and I am so grateful to them. Now that we have our testing program established and are certain that we can test everyone with symptoms, we want to extend to them the opportunity to get tested more easily-for peace of mind and to take action if needed to protect themselves and their families," she said.
"To achieve our goal of universal access, we have continually expanded testing, based on where the need is greatest, and the availability of resources," Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said.
"We focused first on people with symptoms -- in outbreaks, vulnerable populations, case contact investigations and among essential workers. As the circle keeps widening, we now can test more people without symptoms, including close contacts, residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities and essential workers," he said.
On Friday, the city announced it would begin requiring testing for staff and residents at 21 nursing facilities, starting this week, as part of a larger plan to start requiring testing at congregate living facilities.
The city first started testing frontline and essential workers with symptoms last month, as well as established a total of 26 testing sites across the city, including sites for residents who don't have health insurance.
The two "CityTestSF" sites offering the free tests are capable of testing up to 1,500 people per day combined. In addition, the city's Department of Public Health is also conducting free tests at the Bayview's Southeast Health Center, the Castro's Castro-Mission Health Center, Maxine Hall Health Center in Western Addition, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. More information can be found at https://sf.gov/gettestedsf.