SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Two new drive-through coronavirus testing sites have been set up in San Francisco and Oakland for first responders, health care workers and other direct-service providers, officials announced Monday.
The SF drive-through/walk-through testing site is located at Pier 30-32 just south of the Bay Bridge and will begin testing by appointment, starting Monday. The CityTestSF site will steadily increase capacity and will be able to conduct 200 COVID-19 tests per day by the end of the week.READ MORE: VIDEO: Space X Launch Lights Up Pre-Dawn Sky; Crew Headed Toward Space Station
Testing will be prioritized at first for San Francisco first responders and city health care workers with COVID-19 symptoms who are currently quarantined and kept away from both work and their families. The free testing facility is being provided in partnership with two Bay Area companies, Color and Carbon Health, with results within a 24- to 48-hour turnaround time.
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Initially, eligible employees will receive personal invitations for testing. By the end of the week, San Francisco will launch an online system for eligible frontline employees to sign themselves up for testing directly.
“We’re especially concerned with the health of our frontline workers, because they are an essential part of our City’s response to this public health emergency. They are doing the work day in and day out to keep us safe and keep our city running,” said Mayor London Breed in a prepared statement. “Expanding testing is critical. Our first responders need to know with confidence that they can safely return to work and spend time in their homes with their families, or if the need to isolate and get medical care. We hope that this increased access to testing will help keep our frontline workers and their families healthy, and can provide some additional certainty during this incredibly trying and uncertain time.”
Additional groups the City plans to test at this site as capacity grows include Muni employees providing essential transit services, staff interacting with seniors and other vulnerable populations (such as homeless individuals), nonprofit workers providing essential services, private ambulance drivers, shelter workers, and staff transferring isolation patients into hotels.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and community partners also announced on Monday the opening of a COVID-19 coronavirus testing site for direct service providers, such as health care workers, grocery store and food bank employees, homeless outreach workers and others who work directly with the public.
The new drive-through testing site in the parking lot of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center at 10 10th St., near Lake Merritt, supplements the testing for first responders and Brown & Toland physicians that the city began on March 20.
Schaaf said the tests for direct service providers are important because, “We must take care of those who are taking care of us.”
The mayor said such workers have an extra risk of contracting COVID-19 because they have direct exposure to dozens of people daily.READ MORE: Police Activity Slows Bay Bridge Traffic Heading To Oakland
“I’m so glad we can do this little bit to keep them well,” Schaaf said at a news conference at the testing site.
City Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas said, “There are thousands of front line workers who are taking care of us and they can’t shelter in place because they’re taking care of us.”
Jane Garcia, chief executive officer of La Clinica de La Raza, said the expanded testing “is exactly what we need at this time.”
Garcia said that with widespread testing, “I’m hopeful we will be able to contain this pandemic sooner rather than later.”
Schaaf said the new site is able to test about 240 people a day, which she said is about the same number tested at the separate site for first responders. But she said it takes two to five days for the test results to be available.
Schaaf said the city and its partners hope to be able to expand the number of people tested at the two sites and open additional testing sites in the near future.
The mayor said that for now, the second testing isn’t open to general members of the public but she hopes that might change at some point.
Schaaf said direct service employees who want to get tested must have their employers contact the city and its partners to arrange the tests.
“We really want employers to sign up because we have to do contact-tracing to realize the full potential of the tests,” she said.MORE NEWS: Rising Sea Level Threatens Stinson Beach Neighborhoods
Schaaf said the testing of first responders in Oakland is going well because the city hasn’t seen the kind of spike in COVID-19 cases in police officers and firefighters that has happened in New York City, San Jose and other cities.