Unsheltered residents in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood — which has the city's second-highest homeless population — flocked to the United Council of Human Services' Mother Brown’s Dining Room on Saturday for free barbeque, music, and COVID-19 testing organized by UCSF.
Oh, and there was also on-site veterinary help to offer assistance to pets as part of the weekend-long community testing and aid effort.
6/ The Bayview district in SF is home to a large Black population, and is critically underfunded by the city. Mother Brown's Dining Room is a long-standing institution that provides services for unhoused folks in the area. https://t.co/EJdmfXgPQR— Jeremy Rose 🌹 (@nornagon) June 5, 2020
UCSF announced a wide-spread testing endeavor in Southeastern SF late last month, bringing accessible, free testing to all who "live, work, play or pray" in the area, particularly for the homeless there. (Among the hardest hit homeless populations by the pandemic sit in this part of SF which includes the Bayview, Sunnydale, and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods.)
“People experiencing homelessness are at high risk of acquiring the infection, and they are also at high risk of becoming seriously ill,” said Kushel, a professor of medicine at UCSF in a press release. “We are working closely with the community-based organizations and SFDPH to be sure that people who are found to have the infection will receive care and support throughout their illness.”
And, as the Chronicle reports, that plan was very much actualized yesterday afternoon when hundreds of homeless and poverty-stricken individuals in the area were tested for COVID-19 — all while enjoying grilled sustenance and 90s radio staples.
“We’re hoping to determine what is the prevalence of the virus in this part of the city,” said Dr. Margo Kushel, who's also the director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, to the media outlet. In a fit of resonant messaging, MC Hammer’s "U Can’t Touch This" played in the background while Kushel spoke to the Chronicle's Michael Cabanatuan.
Historically, the Bayview-Hunters Point area, existing within District 10, is among the most underserved and impoverished in the city. A recent census report shows the median household income for the area is just a hair over $80k, nearly $16K less than the average for San Francisco. Bayview-Hunters Point, too, boasts a poverty rate of 11.5 percent — putting it in the 90th percentile for both the state and the country.
Kushel was hoping at a thousand or more would show up for the on-site services over the weekend and, as the day began winding down, hundreds did just that. Those tested could choose the traditional swab test or a blood test for antibodies — or both. And most opted for both.
Per the Chronicle, this weekend’s Bayview-Hunters Point testing work is likely SF's first large-scale testing effort done primarily for the homeless who don’t necessarily show outright symptoms of the disease. More like-testing efforts are in the works, which are imperative to safeguarding San Francisco's homeless against the disease.
Asymptomatic testing in San Fransico’s District 10 continues this weekend. We will offer COVID-19 testing for all persons experiencing homelessness in D10. We will also test people who work with people experiencing homelessness in D10. https://t.co/2RtzMgNK1p— Shamann Walton (@shamannwalton) June 4, 2020
“We must protect individuals and families experiencing homelessness in D10 from COVID-19,” District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton said about the effort. “I’m grateful to UCSF for proactively offering testing for our most vulnerable residents, which will help connect them with treatment, and will help our scientists to better understand the spread of this virus in our community.”
The no-charge, open-to-all COVID-19 testing and community aid operation is still continuing today at 211 Jennings Street, right outside Mother Brown's, until 6 p.m. this evening.
This effort is part of the UCSF-launched “United in Health D10 Unhoused" initiative, aiming to offer free COVID-19 tests for anyone experiencing homelessness in District 10.
Visit CityTestSF to find a location near you to secure a COVID-19 test; these tests are now open to “anyone living or working in San Francisco.”
Image: Unsplah, courtesy of Adam Nieścioruk