BOLINAS (CBS SF) — To test an entire town take a lot of money, even if it is the small Marin County town of Bolinas, and that money was provided by the generous donations of two “Bolinas Bros.”
Digital multimillionaires Cyrus Harmon and Jyri Engestrom teamed up to fund a study of the coronavirus that involves testing every single person in the unincorporated coastal community north of Stinson Beach – all 1,680 of them.
“We’re hoping to discover how widely is the virus actually spread,” said Engestrom. “Nobody in California really seems to know right now.”
The study is in partnership with University of California, San Francisco, which will analyze the samples and return results in 72 hours.
Bolinas residents must first make an appointment online, then drive to a drive-through testing facility where hospital specialists swab their throat and nose, then take blood samples from fingertip pricks.
“And all of that testing is done by licensed medical professionals. These are phlebotomists that work in hospitals or actually professionally get lab samples from homebound people,” said UCSF scientist Dr. Aenor Sawyer
Folks in Bolinas are very concerned about the virus. Signs at the entrance to town say things like, “Bolinas Closed to Visitors” and “Surfers Stay Home, Save Lives.” One of the signs gets straight to the point: “Turn around. If you are not from here, don’t come here!”
Bolinas resident Marc Sanchez-Corea says people here were surprised when they heard it was all free. “There was a lot of suspicion, of course, because people with a lot of money here are not really usually part of the community, they just come and use their houses, their third or fourth house, but these people really seem to care about their community,” said Sanchez-Corea.
There are no confirmed cases in Bolinas as of yet. Result will be ready later this week. One person told me off camera that the testing program could cost nearly $250,000.