The site this morning before it opened. Photo. by Lydia Chávez

Once again UCSF and the Latino Task Force launched a Covid-19 testing campaign on Sunday morning at the 24th Street BART station and once again they have had no trouble finding Latinx residents and workers to test. 

Before the site opened at 9:00 a.m. today the line stretched east on 24th Street and wrapped north on Capp Street. The elderly or disabled waited in a shorter line heading north on Mission Street.  

The plan is to test 500 residents a day through Tuesday and then to return on the Monday after Thanksgiving and to expand into other neighborhoods. 

“Someone in a household we visited was positive and so we just want to be sure,” said 47-year-old Bertha who was in line with her husband Rodrigo. Neither has had symptoms, but they want to be sure. 

Nearby, 42-year-old Victor, who works as a waiter said he was getting tested as a “precaution.”

Others in line had agreed with friends or family to test before meeting up on Thanksgiving. 

With each testing campaign, the researchers at UCSF continue to innovate and collect data to better understand how to prevent the spread of the virus, which began to surge again in late October and is now having an impact on hospitalizations. 

Read more about dates and places of upcoming testing sites

“We need to get back to a better control of our epidemic,” said Dr. Diane Havlir, chief of UCSF’s Division of HIV/AIDS, Infectious Disease, and Global Medicine who has collaborated closely with the Latino Task Force to develop the Mission testing campaigns.

The research, which began in April, has offered the city a blueprint for who is most impacted and how best to reach those populations. 

As the researchers did at the 16th Street study in September, testers are performing both the PCR test and the Binax rapid test. In that study, the rapid test detected the virus in 14 out of the 15 who tested positive with the standard PCR test.  

Havlir said they are also collecting more information on possible risk factors, asking questions such as where people have been to see if there is a correlation between activity and positivity.  

The results from rapid testing take 15 minutes and anyone who tests positive will be contacted quickly by the wellness teams, said Dr. Carina Marquez, a UCSF researcher who has worked on all of the Mission testing campaigns. 

Marquez is also overseeing a new effort to offer positive residents the option of having a testing unit visit and test their entire household. 

“It’s all about how we can optimize our response and prevent spread,” said Marquez, who expects the number of cases that opt for household testing to be small.  Nevertheless, it can impact decisions around isolation, she said. 

The researchers noticed on calls with the Department of Public Health that few household members opted for testing so this is an effort to meet people where they are at. 

Being tested can inform decisions around isolation – or even whether they can isolate effectively at home, Marquez said. 

To ensure a good sampling of vulnerable residents, the Latino Task Force did four days of outreach, knocking on doors in Mission District census tracts with high Latinx households and a high incidence of the virus, according to Jon Jacobo, who is with the Latino Task Force’s health committee. 

Read more about the Latino TAsk Force

 At present, those census tracts fall largely between 17th Street and Cesar Chavez and Lexington and Hampshire. 

Citywide, Latinx resident represent 15 percent of the population, but 48 percent of the cases and 25 percent of the deaths. 

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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 and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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4 Comments

  1. I would like to be a volunteer to help with testing. I’ve done hundreds of testing before. Please contact me.

    1. Sundays through Wednesdays 9-2 for testing and vaccination appointments are across the street on Capp and that is open from 9-4 Sundays through Wednesdays.

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