SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Even as both federal and state officials continued to emphasize the importance of increased testing to beat the coronavirus, on Thursday it looked like another slow day at San Francisco’s two designated test sites.
KPIX 5 first reported on the two sites operating below capacity on Tuesday night and followed up with San Francisco officials Wednesday.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
“I just wanted to know, because I live in an SRO,” said Benny Allen, who showed up at the city’s South of Market test site. “A lot has been written about dense populated places and stuff like that. So I just had to know for myself.”
Allen said it took some poking around on the internet, but once he found the city’s testing site, he certainly didn’t have to do any waiting once he arrived.
“No, I’m surprised,” he said. “It’s like 1:30 in the afternoon. I have a 1 o’clock appointment. There was only one other person in line.”
When asked why he thought the turnout was slow at the site, Allen had some ideas.
“I think people have been, like I said, sheltering in place for so long, they probably think they don’t have it,” Allen speculated. “Or they feel confident that they don’t have it or have any symptoms, so there’s no reason for them to get tested.”
The lag in testing is exactly the opposite of what state officials like Gov. Gavin Newsom want.
“We’re seeing a substantial increase in testing on a weekly basis,” Newsom said Thursday, declaring the state is on track top meet its testing goals.
But while the governor says more Californians are getting tested, he also says those numbers will have to grow.
“We want to be able to give people some confidence, some assurance, that — even though they may not have symptoms, they have been recently tested, they feel fine — make sure that they have access to testing on a timely and consistent basis,” Newsom explained.
To that end, Los Angeles is now offering tests to anyone, even without symptoms. KPIX asked if San Francisco is considering such a move, but have not received a response. On Wednesday, city health officials were offering varying advice.
“I want to remind people that testing may also be quite available through their own provider,” said Dr. Susan Philip with the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
However, if an SF resident does not have testing offered by their provider, the city is offering.
“It’s like anything else,” Allen said. “If people want to get tested, all they have to do is go online.”
KPIX spoke with one epidemiologist about this Thursday. They say the city testing under capacity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means there’s room to grow as people, on their own, find city testing sites, or in the event of a sudden swell of sick people.