SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Jonathan German got good news: he came out negative for COVID-19 at new testing site just steps from his home.
“A life and death, matter, you know. We got to know if you’re sick and passing it around or if you clean,” German said.
Thanks to a community-wide lobbying effort, a San Francisco neighborhood with a high rate of COVID-positive cases finally gets its own testing site, and more.
Potrero Hill, where German lives, holds one of the highest concentrations of COVID-19 cases in the city.
LocalIn recent weeks, Potrero Hill residents push for their own testing site, which finally opener on July 6th at the Potrero Hill Health Center, according to Nurse Manager Evita Mullins.
“The community felt like they were out of the loop from testing,” said Mullins.
A coalition of community groups, like CARE — or Community Awareness Resources Entity — fought for the opening of the COVID testing center.
Other groups include Young Community Developers, Shanti Project, YMCA, and Community Wellness Program.
CARES Executive Director Uzuri Pease-Greene said testing was desperately needed near public housing projects where physical distancing is nearly impossible.
“You have a house that has a two-bedroom but there’s nine people living in there,” said Pease-Greene.
And many neighbors refused to travel across town to test for the virus.
“They’re like, ‘If I don’t have it, I’m going to get it in the process of going to find out if I have it or not.,'” she said.
Brigitte Wilson added, “People don’t realize up here how dangerous this virus is.”
Once the Potrero Hill testing site opened, Wilson jumped in line.
“It’s very convenient to have it right up the hill. And a lot of people up here don’t have cars,” she said.
Up to 50 people a day walk in for free testing with next-day results.
“I do see a lot of community really taking advantage of it, ” said Mullins. “Entire families come in.”
But access to COVID testing wasn’t Potrero Hill’s only problem, as more people became more isolated when several bus lines stopped serving their area once they sheltered in place.
So community groups that lobbied for testing have also joined forces to feed hungry families.
“It was bad,” said Pease-Greene. “At one time, it was 50 bags short. Another, 30 bags short. So we made it work.”
In fact, CARE joins several food pantries and the Housing Authority to give away free groceries several times a week. The need has doubled to 300 households.
Volunteers are giving away PPE since many neighbors serve essential roles, from nurses to drivers.
Community leaders say the pandemic is producing critical new partnerships. They’re now pushing to have another testing site in their neighborhood.
“Just know that there are a lot of good things that are happening,” Pease-Greene said.
Because neighbors are working better together.