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Bolinas tests nearly all residents in effort to track how COVID-19 spreads

Bay Area

BOLINAS, Calif. (KRON) — The town of Bolinas tested nearly all its residents for COVID-19 and the results are in.

Almost all residents came back negative.

The effort is part of a UCSF study to track how the virus spreads.

More than 1,800 residents were tested — that’s almost the whole town.

Why the infection rate was so low? Presumably the good adherence to social distancing and the nature of the town.

Scientists say the rural setting of Bolinas — the small coastal town in western Marin County contributed to a lower rate of COVID-19 infections.

The town raised funds to tests all of its residents in April and partnered with USCF.

In a zoom meeting Saturday morning, UCSF doctors and a Marin public health officer discussed the test results.

“It does mean that you should feel more confident that what you are doing is working to keep yourself and your community safe.”

Officials credit social distancing.

Saturday afternoon, the streets were empty in the downtown area.

The small town is known to be isolated and public health officials say it makes it easier to distance than a dense urban area.

“That was very helpful to see an operation like this be so successful,” Dr. Matt Willis said. “This is a model that I know we can now apply to other communities.”

We spoke to Marin County public health officer Dr. Matt Willis about what the county is doing to help the communities that can’t practice physical distancing.

The testing in Bolinas is the first of a two part study. UCSF researchers are looking into the spread of the virus in both rural and urban areas.

Researchers have chosen San Francisco’s Mission District for the second location of testing.

The results for that are still pending.

There was also antibody testing — those results should come in the next few weeks.

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