The top of the flier distributed today in the Mission District.

San Francisco public health officials will launch a massive campaign to test as many residents as possible in an area with some 5,700 residents who live between South Van Ness and Harrison Streets from Cesar Chavez to 23rd Street, according to fliers distributed in the testing area.

The campaign, a collaboration that includes UCSF, the Latino Task Force for COVID-19 and the SF Department of Public Health, will take place over four days starting on April 25. 

“People in the Mission have been heavily affected by COVID-19,” the announcement explains. “Community-based testing will provide important information to people on whether they have COVID-19 now or had it in the past and will help us understand how to stop the spread of the virus.” 

“All community members who are 4 years old and older who live in the study area are encouraged to attend, regardless of symptoms,” the flier urges. 

It’s unclear if the city knows of a particular outbreak in the testing area. So far, it has not reported its COVID-19 numbers by geography. 

“The city has yet to publish the maps, but there are a lot of cases in the Mission District,” said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF. “And a lot of our contact tracing is leading to the Mission District.”

“I’m really happy someone is seriously considering the undocumented and often forgotten engine that helps drive the city,” said George Lipp, who lives in the testing area and plans to participate. “Keep everyone healthy, it’s morally right and good civic and economic administration.”

Residents are asked to schedule an appointment starting Tuesday here. 

Volunteers will visit households between Wednesday and Friday. 

The testing sites will be at Garfield Park, Ninos Unidos Park, Flynn Elementary School and Cesar Chavez Elementary school. 

During UCSF’s grand rounds on Thursday, the specialists talked about the ethnic disparity in COVID-19 cases, with Latinx residents comprising 23 percent of the cases in San Francisco and only 16 percent of the population. 

Rutherford said Thursday that he supported aggressive testing in the Mission District and was pleased that Mission Neighborhood Health Center had started testing its patients with COVID-19 symptoms this last week. 

The testing announced in the fliers, however, is a huge jump from what has been done so far. 

Dr. Brenda Storey, the executive director of the Mission clinic, said Friday that in their first week of testing, the clinic had access to 100 tests and had tested 20 patients. She did not yet have results for any of those tests. She said she could see ramping up the drive-through test site to accommodate 200 residents a day.

Read about the Census Tract’s demographics here.

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Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor at Berkeley’s J-school until 2019. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. The Tribune...

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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14 Comments

  1. I am going to take a guess. 5% of those tested will be positive. 45% will be tested and show they have had covid19 already. Please post your predictions and we can circle back. Viva la raza.

  2. If the Mission is Heavily affected, why aren’t grocery stores, convenient stores etc given more stringent guidelines? Like mandatory hand sanitizer before going in to stores, limiting the number of people inside…

    I’m glad this is happening though, it’s time we take care of our vulnerable communities.

  3. Hmmm. As the City is not releasing location data of cases and deaths, AS THEY SHOULD, (Colfax is committing malpractice IMHO), this is the only indicator we have, of where a hotspot might be.

    Lydia, thanks for your great reporting. You and the team at ML seem to be the only outlet holding the City accountable.

  4. Wow, that eligibility area is tiny. My family missed by two blocks. I live on 23rd between Bryant and Florida.
    Kinda bummed.

  5. Hi Lydia – why are they not including the senior housings: Ruth’s Place (21st/Capp); & the site on SVN btw 22nd & 23rd?

  6. I live within the area described, and yet when I put in my address in, it says I’m not eligible. Who can I call on Monday to clear this up?

  7. SF has done very little testing. What number of people qualifies as heavily affected? If heavy enough it seems stricter stay at home measures are warranted to contain the virus and protect those who actually are more vulnerable by virtue of their physical condition, rather than their neighborhood. Needless to say the vulnerable are In all neighborhoods. It’s estimated that the number in the city who would test positive far exceeds the number of confirmed cases. If those who test positive can be traced, every individual they may have infected should also be tested. At the rate of 200 tests per day it will take a month to test the residents in this neighborhood alone. By that time every person in the city will have been exposed. Without rapid widespread testing available what exactly is the point? We have already been advised to conduct ourselves as if everybody we come in contact with is infected because we can’t get tested until we’re too sick to walk. In a time of reduced revenue resources might be more wisely directed.

  8. The flyer shown here is in English. Is the other side in Spanish? I assume so, but I would feel better if the article said so.

  9. Area seems to only apply to one side of S Van Ness Ave, excluding our family from testing. Is this intentional or a map error?

  10. Glad we’re ramping up testing in a non haphazard way. We need much more testing, though in the meantime and while it’s scarce, we should be using it wisely; I.e.,

    1/ true randomized testing of population; and

    2/ targeted testing of known hotspots (like this)

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