SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The city of San Francisco is asking residents not to use government-operated COVID-19 testing sites for their Thanksgiving travel or gathering plans, which are discouraged.

The city says they’re seeing increasing demand for testing, but the resources are for essential workers and those who are symptomatic or believe they were exposed to the virus.

Government operated testing sites seeing high demand include the city test SF location at the Embarcadero.

At last check, appointments are booked up through December 2nd and this is a site that typically tests 1,700 people a day.

This now raises concerns that those who may need the tests most might not have accessibility.

The city emphasizes that these testing sites are not to clear you for your holiday plans.

Supervisor Matt Haney says that site and a few others in his district are important for essential workers. Those who’ve been exposed to the virus and other people who don’t have health insurance.

“The worst thing would be for our testing sites to be so over subscribed to have a back up and a wait that people who really needed to get tested because they might have been exposed, because they might have symptoms, because they have no other options can’t get tested,” Haney said. 

On Wednesday, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health responded to these concerns about the city’s 19 free testing locations saying: “The available public testing is for those that are essential workers, or are symptomatic or have been exposed and is imperative to fighting the spread of the virus. If people need tests for any other reason – like travel or visiting – they need to go to their private provider. City resources cannot support testing for behaviors, such as travel and visits with extended family, that are currently not recommended during this surge. “

Doctor Peter Chin-Hong at UCSF explains other options.

“There’s several other sites. The most important site to check is with your primary care physician because you probably wouldn’t even have to pay and your health system may have it like Kaiser or even UCSF Health. The second way to think about doing this is through Costco through your own testing home kit. It may cost some money and then there are some new things on the way,” Chin-Hong said. 

This week and next week, Supervisor Haney says the city is working to expand testing capacity for the days following Thanksgiving. 

He says there will be many pop up sites throughout the city but again, the city urges people to go to their private providers ahead of the holiday.

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