It's all about the testing.
Rapid, widespread testing for COVID-19 is considered essential to tracking and containing the spread of the novel coronavirus. That's especially key now, as many counties throughout California — and the rest of the country — take tentative steps to reopen.
But, of course, not everyone has health insurance. Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed in March, patients don’t have to pay out of pocket for coronavirus testing. But many health providers still require insurance and a referral, which significantly limits who can receive a test.
That’s why a growing number of counties and cities are now operating their own free community testing sites, many of them located in low-income, underserved communities.
The locations listed in the map below are community testing sites in the nine-county Bay Area that don’t require referrals, membership or insurance (although some sites will bill the insurance providers of patients who have coverage). Click the magnifying glass at the bottom to search locations. View the full resource list here.
Unless otherwise noted, the testing sites use nasal or oral swabs to determine if you have the virus — not an antibody (serology) blood-based test to determine if you've been exposed to it.
Most sites require appointments (see map for specific details), and test results should be available within three days. Some sites only offer tests to patients who have at least one symptom or have been exposed to the virus, although most now offer them to all front-line or essential workers, regardless of symptoms or exposure.
We will update this map as more sites open. If you know of a free community site not listed here, or notice any errors in the information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
California’s testing capacity has increased significantly in recent weeks among both private practices and public health clinics, with more than 35,000 tests now being conducted daily, up from an average of just 2,000 a day in March. That, however, still falls far short of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of ramping up to at least 60,000 tests a day.