Left: Wednesday, July 22, at 1 p.m. at SOMA testing site, virtually no line. Right:July 29, The line for testing at BART station shortly after 7 a.m. stretched from the 24th Street Bart Station to Capp Street.

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen will call for a hearing at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to examine how the Department of Public Health has allocated Covid-19 resources, Santiago Lerma, Ronen’s legislative aide, said late today.  

Lerma said he had not yet written the questions that Ronen wants to be addressed, but “basically it is going to be the questions raised” in Mission Local’s article illustrating the disparity in testing in the Latinx and Southeast communities.  

The Latinx population – 15 percent of the population –  represents 51 percent of the city’s cases. Yet, of the nearly half-million tests the city has recorded for Covid-19, only 9 percent have been Latinx residents, according to DPH. 

“What is the basis for the resources already spent, the efficacy of the resources, why is it taking so long to get money to the community wellness teams?” Lerma said in reference to some of the questions the hearing might address. 

Five southeast neighborhoods: the Mission, Bayview, Visitacion Valley, the Excelsior and the Outer Mission account for 41 percent of the city’s 10,640 Covid cases, yet they receive a fraction of the overall tests. Add in the Tenderloin and 50 percent of the cases are in six neighborhoods. 

As Mission Local reported: 

Compared to the approximately 25,000 residents tested in affected communities, 176,031 tests have been conducted at the city’s Embarcadero and SoMa sites, according to the Department of Public Health. 

That represents 14 percent of the tests in communities representing 50 percent of the cases. Testing campaigns in the Mission have demonstrated a strong demand while the lines at places like SoMa hardly exist. 

Lerma said the hearing could be held anytime between one to four weeks from the present. 

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Lydia Chávez

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

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9 Comments

  1. Question the case count data. Question the hospitalization data. Question the testing strategy that feeds the metrics being used (and regularly changed to suit) the lockdown strategy that is fueling Breed’s political strategy and killing our city and most vulnerable in the process.

    This is a major scandal. What you will find will shock you. Hold them to account NOW.

  2. Thanks for the story, Lydia. This needs to be reported on. I do find some of

    “The Latinx population – 15 percent of the population – represents 51 percent of the city’s cases. Yet, of the nearly half-million tests the city has recorded for Covid-19, only 9 percent have been Latinx residents, according to DPH.” This is definitely concerning and merits investigation. Hopefully Ronen’s hearings shed light on this.

    “Compared to the approximately 25,000 residents tested in affected communities, 176,031 tests have been conducted at the city’s Embarcadero and SoMa sites, according to the Department of Public Health.” This is slightly misleading (or, at least, is easy to misinterpret) because the Embarcadero and SoMa testing sites are not just for those neighborhoods, but are rather promoted as the default citywide testing options: https://sf.gov/find-out-about-your-covid-19-testing-options. People can be driving/biking to these sites from all over the city, including possibly from the affected communities. It would be interesting to see if the city has data on what neighborhoods people are coming from when they test at the Embarcadero and SoMa sites. If I lived in the Mission, needed a COVID test, and had the time and means to travel to Embarcadero, I would prefer to get tested there to leave space at my local site for those who truly need it. It’s also possible that many people would prefer the Embarcadero/SoMa sites over their local neighborhood ones as the more centralized sites are appointment-only, which gives more certainty about social distancing. Seems like an obvious choice vs. standing in line with a lot of people who think they are symptomatic for COVID. So if, say, 50% of people who utilized tests at Embarcadero/SoMa are actually from heavily affected communities themselves, then the allocation issues seem less problematic. Hopefully this is discussed in the hearing, else we may not know the true scope of the problem (could go in either direction).

    “Testing campaigns in the Mission have demonstrated a strong demand while the lines at places like SoMa hardly exist.” Is the nonexistence of lines supposed to indicate lack of demand? That’s also quite misleading. SoMa is appointment only so even if demand is high, that won’t be evidenced by long lines. People just won’t be able to book online and thus won’t show up. At least according to the landing page for booking an appointment, demand for the SoMa/Embarcadero is high. Based on my experience of getting a test in late June, almost all the slots for a week or two were booked. I thought about checking the current state of things, but didn’t want to enter bogus symptoms / my personal contact info in order to get to the page that shows appointment availability. But I’m sure an enterprising reporter could find that out :).

    Finally, the headline picture is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Credit to you for providing the details of when the photos were taken in the caption. But the average person is just going to see the photo and think the SoMa site completely underutilized, which again is not true based on my experience of trying to book a testing appointment in June. Perhaps all we can say from the two photos is: “an appointment based system for COVID testing does not have lines”, but the narrative doesn’t seem open to that possibility. You at least could have gotten a photo of the Mission testing line at 1PM on a Wednesday. Otherwise, someone could even think, “the difference is simply due to comparing middle-of-the-workday lull to pre-work rush”.

  3. Why do they need a hearing. Can’t Ronen makes some calls, I’m sure she has a staff (which we’re subsidizing) that can make calls to the health department (which seems competent) to sort this out. We need to get the tests to the people and neighborhoods that need then most (though let’s recognize everyone in the City should have a right to get tested during that virus).

    What we don’t need is the political grandstanding that Hillary Ronen is constantly seeking. She must like to have her name in the papers. I’m a bit cynical we need a hearing to get to the bottom of this.

    1. Agreed.

      Hearings?
      Why – to assign blame?

      The neighborhood has obviously been on fire for some time.
      Send all the fire trucks – now.
      But instead we’re gonna get hearings to determine how the fire got so big.
      Possibly a month from now while the fire rages on.
      This is bordering on the cynical.

      And yet – this supervisor will get re-elected without much of a contest.
      And so it goes …

    2. In total agreement with this assessment. Ronen never really seems to want to solve practical problems in a low-key, drama free way. It’s all about flapping the mouth and appearing to be more than she is.

      What an embarrassment.

  4. Could Sup. Ronen also call a hearing to investigate how many rent controlled tenants were bumped out of her new TIC building?

    1. Ronen is a lot of noise and smoke but accomplishes little. As aapi pointed out, most of the sups behave completely contrary to their political platforms. Best example is ol tenant rights and homeless advocate Preston. Lives in a multimillion dollar home on a street that doesn’t allow homeless encampments.

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