The San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Latino Task Force for Covid-19 will operate a two-day drop-in testing site Wednesday and Thursday at the 24th BART Plaza to serve the Latinx community and essential workers, the health department and the task force announced today.
To make the site possible, some 700 tests a day have been reallocated from CityTest SF Embarcadero, where DPH has been using 68 percent of the city’s testing resources, according to DPH.
Mission Local’s story about that allocation provoked several heated conversations with the city, said Jon Jacobo, the head of the health committee for the Latino Task Force. Apparently, the city listened.
“The city is now partnering with the Latino Task Force on a more serious level,” said Jacobo. “This is our first rodeo.”
Jacobo said the Latino Task Force wanted to start small, with just two days of testing. He applauded the city’s willingness to allow the Latino Task Force to be the lead on the project. This is the first time the city has collaborated so closely with the Latino Task Force, a group that emerged in March as a leader in providing resources to the Latinx community.
“Depending on how this goes, we will look to the future to see how we can scale up the effort and get more testing,” he said, adding that they have long advocated for more testing in the Mission.
A spokesperson from the city’s Covid Command Center added: “This is a pilot program and, if successful, we will work with the community to have this additional testing capacity available.”
Already, earlier testing campaigns run by UCSF and the Latino Task Force have demonstrated that the 24th Street BART station is a particularly good site for attracting residents and workers.
The pre-Christmas pop-up will offer “free, low-barrier testing with multilingual staff in Spanish, Chinese, and English.”
No appointments are needed, and the results will be reported within 24 to 48 hours, the health department said. Virusgeek, a new company, will be providing the technicians and processing the tests.
DPH said the site recognizes Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on the Latinx community, which has a “new case positivity rate of 112.68 per 10,000 residents compared to a citywide average of 72.17,” according to the health department.
Latinx residents represent 15 percent of the city’s population, but 44 percent of the city’s Covid-19 cases.
With 700 tests a day used at the 24th Street BART station, the Embarcadero site will still have 1000 tests a day.
“Expanding low-barrier testing resources in communities with high prevalence of the virus, like the Mission neighborhood, is a top priority,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, the health department’s director. “Communities of color, particularly the Latino community, and essential workers continue to shoulder a disproportionate burden of COVID 19.