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San Francisco health officials to conduct own coronavirus testing


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Less than a week after declaring a local public health emergency to prepare for the coronavirus, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced the city’s Department of Public Health will now begin conducting its own coronavirus testing, instead of shipping tests cross country to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This will allow us to move faster and confirm any diagnosis more quickly,” London Breed said. 

The Department of Public Health has received an initial allotment of 250 test kits for those who meet CDC testing guidelines.  

With testing going on seven days a week, turnaround time will be just one to two days.

“Because we are testing more and more people will get tested more quickly, we are likely to diagnose a case very soon,” Grant Colfax said. 

At Monday’s news conference, the mayor was also asked if declaring a local emergency before San Francisco’s first case was stoking fears among the public.  

She countered it’s simply about getting prepared.

“We are here to communicate to the public exactly the facts of what is happening in hopes that they don’t freak out, we don’t want them to freak out over this. The fact is that creates chaos, we don’t want chaos to happen, there is no need for chaos,” Breed said.

The mayor says the city has brought on an additional 50 workers to help with emergency planning and response and as part of the expanded effort the city will reach out to the most vulnerable communities, among them seniors, those living multi-person communities, the homeless and those in shelters so they can be educated about how to best protect themselves.  

They are also reaching out to those with chronic illnesses.  

Health officials also made it clear the public has their own role to play in preparing.

“Wash your hands, cover your cough and sneeze, stay home if you are sick, get a flu shot which while it doesn’t prevent coronavirus, it prevents symptoms similar to coronavirus,” Colfax said. 

Officials say also prepare for a disruption, which means having extra medication on hand, having child care plans in case schools are closed and figure out how you can care for a sick loved one without getting sick yourself.

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