San Francisco to expand COVID testing capacity at high-volume SoMa site

Husband Les Ojeda, left, on her side Shayleen Ojeda uses nasal swab for COVID-19 test at a San Bernardino County Public Health Departments testing site at Convention Center on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 in Ontario, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

San Francisco is ramping up the public's ability to get a COVID-19 test in response to a rise in cases from the delta variant. 

City officials announced on Monday they will open a high-volume testing site at 7th and Brannan streets in the South of Market neighborhood, starting Wednesday August 18. The site is free of charge, no insurance required. 

The center will be able to administer 500 tests a day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The site is available for people to walk up or to drive through, but is by appointment only. Test results should be available within 24 to 48 hours. 

The mayor's office in a press release said, the city is currently averaging 230 COVID cases per day. In addition, they called on health care providers to step up their efforts to increase testing capacity as the city is testing five to 10 times more than private health systems on a daily basis. 

City officials encourage people to get tested through their private insurance before using these city-run facilities. 

The Department of Public Health is expected to announce an order this week requiring large health care facilities to provide testing to patients. The mayor's office said the order is designed to ensure that private health providers contribute fully to the City’s COVID-19 testing infrastructure.

"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 Breed. "If you feel sick, have symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, we want to make it easy and convenient for you to get tested."

The new testing site will bring the city's full testing capacity to 5,000 a day. 

City health officials said the delta variant is posing new challenges to a city fatigued by the ongoing pandemic. The State of California had just reopened for business some two months ago, before news of the highly-contagious variant brought returning to work to a crashing halt and new indoor mask mandates despite vaccination status. In addition, last week, the city responded with some of the most strict COVID proof of vaccination requirements in the nation. 

New restrictions and additional testing capacity is explained as a way to keep businesses and schools safely open. 

"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 Director of Health, Dr. Grant Colfax. "We are opening the new SoMa testing site to meet our highest needs, and to serve those in the City who have been most impacted by COVID and who have the least access to care." 

For more information and to make an appointment: