Coronavirus testing: San Francisco prepares for new site in Mission District

People leading the testing were also involved in saving lives during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed hinted that the stay-at-home order is likely to be extended while at the same time she urged people to respect the public-health order, especially this weekend when the weather is expected to be nice.

"Stay at home, go out and get fresh air if we need it, and keep our distance from people when we're outside," said Breed.

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People are encouraged to remain indoors, except for the people of one neighborhood. The Mission District is the only neighborhood where people are being told to leave their homes to be tested for COVID-19.

Residents were putting up flyers with information.

Four outdoor testing sites will be up and running Saturday through Tuesday.

Volunteers were out again today urging people to sign up.

"It's been really frustrating being at home for the past few weeks and not felling like there is anything you can do to help," said volunteer Adam Century. Just as he was talking to ABC7 News, a resident opened the door and asked him, "Are you registering people?"

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Two tests will be available, a swab test with results within 72 hours and a second test which will detect for COVID-19 anti-bodies.

"It says definitely you've had COVID-19, your body has been exposed to it, your body fought it off and now your have antibodies," explained Janis Wisherop, also a volunteer.

Those results will take between 3-4 weeks and scientists don't know if those antibodies will protect you next time.

The irony in all of this is that some of the people coordinating this testing were also on the front line of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

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Diane Jones, for example, was one of nurses in the AIDS ward 5B back in the early '80s. The lead scientist in this testing is Doctor Diane Havlir of UCSF, who developed therapeutic strategies to improve the lives of people living with AIDS in East Africa.

UCSF is hoping to test more than 5,000 residents of the Mission.

"Identify the people who are actively symptomatic or a-symptomatic and then be able to support them in their households in necessary self-isolation for 14 days and that's huge," said Jones who is now retired but volunteering.

This is important because it could save lives and help slow down the spread from one neighborhood to another.

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