Free Testing for All Essential Workers in SF; Breed Threatens to Close Dolores Park, Reinstate Street-Sweeping Tickets

San Francisco is in a mad dash to expand testing, as it begins to ease restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The city's revised stay at home order—announced on April 29—took effect Monday and will be in place through the last day of May.

Mayor London Breed said during a coronavirus briefing Monday that all healthcare workers, bus drivers, police officers, and other San Francisco workers deemed essential can now get a free coronavirus test.

"If you are an essential worker and you exhibit symptoms or you don't exhibit symptoms, you still are able to get tested," she said. "And usually the results of those tests, we get back anywhere between 24 and 72 hours."

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Before, free tests were available to essential employees but only if they felt sick with symptoms of COVID-19.

Breed called the new step “significant” and "a game changer."

"The ability to expand testing capacities is so important as we start to look at opening more businesses and reopening our city," she said. "And having the ability to get people tested is so critical to that success."

Testing is available at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, the Castro-Mission Health Center, the Southeast Health Center in the Bayview neighborhood and the Maxine Hall Health Center in the Western Addition.

San Francisco is also administering tests at two city-run sites located at 600 7th St. in the SOMA neighborhood, and at Pier 30-32 along the Embarcadero.

Breed said workers who want to sign up for a test at one of the city sites can call 311. She asked people not to show up without calling.

SF Considers Closing Dolores Park, Issuing Tickets for Street Sweeping

Breed issued a couple of warnings to San Franciscans who are not complying with the city's guidance.

Last weekend, Breed said, many people were not maintaining physical distance at Dolores Park, the popular, beer-and-sun-soaked grassy knoll located in the Mission District.

“Dolores Park continues to be a real challenge because we know that on nice days, that is the place to be for so many folks,” she said.

She said park officials will watch activity there in the next couple of days to assess whether people are following public health guidelines to keep six feet of distance unless they live under one roof, and to wear face masks appropriately.

“We're all adults here,” Breed said, "and there is no reason that we should have to send in any of our law enforcement or anyone to tell people what they should be already doing."  

If the city sees that people's behavior has not changed, Breed said, she will close the park.

"I want to be clear, this is the last thing I want to do," she said. "We know that people need fresh air, they want to be out, but if we continue to see that behavior become problematic at Dolores Park, it will not longer be available. So I'm asking everyone to be cooperative."

She also told San Franciscans that, unless they are ill, they must move their cars for street cleaning.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency stopped issuing street-sweeping citations last month after people were ordered to stay in their homes, but Breed said the city will be monitoring the situation this week to evaluate whether to change that.

“There are a lot of able-bodied people who are able to get up and move your car,” Breed said. “And the problem that we're having right now, a lot of folks are not doing that.”

Breed said the city could begin issuing citations again next week.

San Francisco to Start COVID-19 Testing at Laguna Honda Hospital

Breed also spoke about an effort to expand the testing of people who are living in nursing homes and other congregate settings.

Last week, the city announced that it would require coronavirus tests for people living and working at nursing homes.

Breed said the city will begin testing all residents and staff at Laguna Honda Hospital this week.

“It's important that everyone ensures the safety of not just the workers who work at these skilled nursing facilities,” she said, "but the patients as well, who are amongst what we know are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19."