Months after the city closed several mass-testing locations in favor of neighborhood-based sites, the Delta variant surge of COVID has prompted SF's Department of Public Health to reopen one of its former drive-through/walk-up sites in SoMa.
"We are responding to this fourth surge in COVID-19 by doing what we know works best – and that is vaccinations, indoor masking, and expanding our testing capacity once again with this new high-volume testing site," said Dr. Grant Colfax on Monday.
Colfax and the health department announced that a site at 7th and Brannan that had provided testing early in the pandemic has opened once again offering up to 500 tests per day by appointment. Like current and previous mass-testing sites, this one is being operated in partnership with Color Health. It will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.
"We know that the most important thing people can do to keep themselves and their friends and family safe is to get vaccinated, but with the Delta variant here and cases at a higher level than we’d like, testing remains an important part of our strategy to slow the spread of this virus," said Mayor London Breed in a statement.
There is some suggestion that the current surge has already peaked here, with the seven-day rolling average of new cases in San Francisco dropping as of last week, and hospitalizations appearing to be leveling off.
As of August 8, the seven-day average of daily new cases in the city was 225, down from 284 on August 2. And there were 119 new cases added on August 11, down from 170 a day earlier, and 345 two days earlier.
Local and national experts are saying more and more that we are likely to see COVID become endemic, and that this pandemic may not ever fully "end" so much as we will manage the virus and accept that it will return in waves, like the flu. This is dependent on vaccines holding up and continuing to mostly prevent hospitalizations and severe disease.
"Our ability to adapt, change and respond will serve us well," Dr. Colfax said in a briefing last week, per the Chronicle. "We are now in a new phase of the pandemic, and even as we see a surge in cases, we have the tools to fight this disease and keep ourselves and each other safe."
The city says that the new free testing site brings the daily capacity for testing to 5,000 per day. But individuals who are concerned about COVID exposure are being told to first seek tests from their healthcare provider, or use an at-home testing kit, before booking an appointment at the 7th and Brannan site.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images