Massive effort to test for COVID-19 in the Mission will start Thursday

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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 23. 

“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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