Coronavirus: North Bay town Bolinas offers free COVID-19 testing to every resident

BOLINAS, Calif. (KGO) -- It seems impossible but it's happening in the small West Marin County town of Bolinas, where most every resident has registered for free drive-thru COVID19 and antibody testing conducted by staffers at UCSF. 1,600 people have registered so far.

"We know very little about how the virus moves through in a community setting, that's our motivation for doing this," said Dr. Aenor Saywer from UCSF and Bolinas resident.

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So far, there's been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Bolinas

The idea came from venture capitalist and Bolinas resident Jyri Engestrom and others who were inspired by the Italian town of Vo, which saw success warding off the virus by testing every resident .

"The idea, if it helps anyone who doesn't know they carry the virus self isolate," said Engestrom.

Engstrom has raised $300,000 in private donations to pay for the testing.

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Bolinas Fire Captain Peter Smith, was turned down for a COVID-19 test last month when he was feeling ill.

"I'm a first responder and couldn't get tested, that's why this testing site is important, I want to know what happened to me," said Smith.

Last month , Bolinas residents stopped tourists and surfers from entering the town to help protect its elderly population from the virus.

"Everybody wants to get tested, Over 50% of us are 60 years old here and vulnerable, testing gives us hope," said Bolinas Resident Marc Sanchez-Corea.

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The drive-thru testing site will be open to residents until Thursday. UCSF is planning a similar effort in San Francisco's Mission District on Saturday where more than 5,000 people could be tested. They hope to compare the results of a big city neighborhood to a small town like Bolinas.

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