San Franciscans will soon have three new mobile sites to go to for testing for the coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced Friday.
The expansion of locations comes despite ongoing concerns about the limited capacity for testing and access to it.
The three new sites bring the total number of drive-thru or drop-in testing sites in San Francisco to seven. They are open to the public, but require a referral by a medical clinician.
The three sites are a partnership between The City and North East Medical Services (NEMS) as well as Brown and Toland Physicians.
NEMS will open two new sites in the Outer Sunset and Chinatown early next week, according to the Mayor’s Office, while the Brown and Toland site is expected to open at the end of next week near Oracle Park.
Other testing sites already in operation are currently offered by Kaiser Permanente, UCSF, One Medical and Sutter CPMC.
The Sutter and UCSF locations are prioritized for use by their health care employees and first responders.
Testing capacity is also increasing at the Department of Public Health’s own lab, which began testing on March 2 for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Initially the lab could run 50 tests a day but that now has increased to 150 tests. Turnaround for results is about one to two days.
Dr. Grant Colfax said Friday that the public lab could increase capacity to test as many as 450 per day beginning next week.
Colfax noted that despite the increased testing there “there are still severe shortages of critical components needed in the COVID-19 coronavirus testing process.”
Breed said that “in light of having sufficient testing for all San Franciscans, social distancing is the key.” People are advised to remain within six feet of each other.
“I can’t mention it enough,” Breed said. “Regardless of how many tests or who we are able to test that at the end of the day is going to make the most impact.”