Coronavirus tests: San Francisco to expand testing to communities hit hard by COVID-19

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- To date,12,598 San Francisco residents have been tested for the novel coronavirus with 12 percent of them testing positive. The numbers were released Thursday by the Department of Public Health.

Currently, San Francisco has 26 testing sites, far below what's necessary to begin thinking of reopening the city. But there is promising news in that these sites are quickly beginning to expand.

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COVID-19 testing sites throughout San Francisco are collecting about 500 samples a day, even though labs throughout the city are ready to analyze more than four-thousand a day.

Where's the disconnect? The city says the lack of supplies and swab testing kits have been a challenge.

"But we are moving toward that as we expand our capacity, expand our testing sites, expand our supply chain to make sure we have all the materials we need," explained Dr. Susan Philip, Director of Disease, Prevention and Control at San Francisco's Department of Health.

Those with symptoms and close contact with someone infected, continue to be tested for free.

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Added to that list will be communities with barriers to health care. That's why this weekend UCSF will begin testing residents of the Mission District which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, volunteers went door to door letting people know about the four testing sites. They will be located at Garfield Park, Ninos Unidos Park, Flynn Elementary and Cesar Chavez Elementary.

The testing begins this Saturday through Tuesday.

"Some people already registered online and some people didn't know about it. That's why we're here to help them, said Teresa Billicana, one of the many volunteers helping spread the word.

ABC7 News asked the city to explain what it will do with the results, the findings.

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"So if it's positive it's helpful we can advise the individual we can make sure they get the care, if they're sick we can admit them to the hospital for care," added Dr. Philip.

The results could help show how the virus is spreading.

"It's a really rich data set. It will show what the viral load is in the neighborhood, it will show community spread," explained Hilary McQuie, another volunteer.

Those who test negative, are urged to test again. That's because, in the early stages of the virus, it may not appear in the nasal area where samples are collected.

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