Here in San Francisco, a recent COVID-19 testing option became available in my neighborhood, the Mission district. A testing site coordinated by Unidos en Salud (United in Health) ,and the City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Health, at Garfield Square.I was anxious walking over to the site, but relaxed because the set up reminded me of the many health and community fairs I've attended over the years that often use tents, and it warmed my heart to recognize a friend and colleague from the LGBT community, who was hard at work volunteering-- always contributing to the solution.
The space was well organized, with 8 tents spread ( four on each side) along a soccer field. I had an early 9:00 am appointment and was third in what became a long line around one corner of the small park. We were allowed in, only two or three at a time and only from the same household, when a tent was available. Each tent had several staff/volunteers. Everyone wore masks and gloves, with those conducting the test wearing additional face shields over their face mask, and hazard suits. This site offered two test. One finger stick tested for the COVID-19 antibodies, to determine if I was exposed to the virus. And a throat and nasal swab, to determine if I currently have the virus. One tip I would offer is please drink plenty of water before you test; it will assist with blood flow when collecting your specimen from the finger stick. A second, keep in mind you may sneeze (like I did) with the nasal swab, so be prepared to sneeze into your arm (and you will be holding your face mask up or in your hand, so this can catch you off guard). Although the staff and volunteers are the appropriate 6 feet away, and the testing is done outside the tent, we know the spray from sneezes travel far, so take care to contain it as much as possible.
After collecting the specimens, I was reminded I could get my results in 72 hours, and I was given a form earlier with contact information and COVID-19 related resources. I was in and out in twenty minutes. I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to ALL of the volunteers, health care workers and medical staff for taking care of me, us, through this storm. I also want to give a shout out to my neighbors and overall community for staying calm and respectful to one another, and know we will make it through this. God bless all of you.