Testing for COVID-19 is a critical part of San Francisco's response. Testing enables the City to identify COVID-19 cases in our community and offer resources and support to residents who test positive. Testing also enables the City to begin contact tracing to prevent the spread of the virus.
The number of tests collected and the test positivity rate tell us if we are succeeding in our efforts to suppress COVID-19 and where we should target more resources to prevent infections.
Interested in getting tested?
All San Franciscans can get tested - you do not need to have insurance. Call your doctor’s office to ask about getting tested, or if you don’t have insurance, learn more about testing options.
Citywide Testing Data
Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has increased COVID-19 testing capacity, as shown in the testing data below. All of the data shown on this page includes test results from San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) testing sites as well as private providers.
The positivity rate is the percentage of tests that return a positive result for COVID-19, excluding indeterminate results. This number indicates how widespread COVID-19 is in San Francisco and it helps public health officials determine if we are testing enough.
The total number of positive test results is not equal to the total number of COVID-19 cases in San Francisco. Read more about this in the data notes on the dashboard.
The testing data shown on this page includes all tests collected at all medical providers in San Francisco. The San Francisco Department of Public Health is one of many providers that perform COVID-19 tests. About 55% of COVID-19 tests are collected by City-funded initiatives and testing sites. The remaining 45% are collected by private providers (such as Kaiser, One Medical, UCSF, Sutter, etc.).
Testing Data by Race/Ethnicity
Advancing racial equity is one of the City's core values. Tracking testing data by race/ethnicity is critical to enable the City to realign resources to most effectively serve those who are currently disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Data show COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color in San Francisco, California, and across the United States. Structural racism is a major factor contributing to the disproportionate geographic and racial impact on communities of color. For example, structural racism is related to testing access because of discriminatory housing policies, like redlining and urban renewal. These policies resulted in an unequal distribution of medical facilities and doctor's offices (most of which are located in the northern half of the City). Learn more about COVID-19 disparities and inequities.
Learn about health disparities in our community in the 2019 San Francisco Community Health Needs Assessment. Read about prioritizing vulnerable populations in this recent SF Health Advisory on Prioritizing Populations with Structural Barriers to Health.
Below we show percent positivity and testing rate by race/ethnicity of the patient tested. The testing rate is the number of tests collected for patients who identified with a certain race/ethnicity per 1,000 residents in that race/ethnicity. We calculate a rate per resident population to be able to compare groups of different sizes. Click on the data notes button to learn more.
Testing Data by Neighborhood
The maps below show percent positivity and testing rates by neighborhood during the previous two months. The testing data were mapped by resident address listed with each test. For example, the testing rate for a neighborhood is the number of tests collected where the patient listed a residential address in that neighborhood per 1,000 residents in that neighborhood.
This data does not include the regular testing that occurs at Skilled Nursing Facilities. Click on the data notes button to learn more.
As described above, structural racism is closely tied with many of the neighborhood trends shown below.
These maps include all medical providers. About 55% of COVID-19 tests are collected by City-funded initiatives and testing sites. The remaining 45% are collected by private providers (such as Kaiser, One Medical, UCSF, Sutter, etc.).
These maps show testing data, see maps of confirmed cases.
These neighborhood trends may change over time. A community with low transmission of COVID-19 might experience a new outbreak, or a local laboratory might increase the number of tests it can process. Public health experts track this data over time so that the City’s strategy can adapt. These charts show how the percent positivity and the testing rate change over time. Click on a neighborhood in the map to see how that neighborhood compares to the Citywide trends.
San Francisco's Test and Respond Strategy
The main goal of the City’s testing program is to suppress COVID-19 and support residents who test positive. Testing enables us to quickly identify communities and individuals with COVID-19 (and their close contacts), and then support them in isolating to reduce further spread.
The City is committed to prioritizing vulnerable populations throughout our response. Learn more.
Testing is a critical part of our response but testing alone will not prevent COVID-19 transmission: wearing a mask, physical distancing, and hand washing are all essential. In addition, if you have symptoms or have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, isolating before testing is also critical to prevent spreading the virus.
As shown here, testing is one piece of the City’s strategy to prevent outbreaks.
Even with increased testing capacity, testing resources are still limited. The Department of Public Health and the CDC have prioritized testing for individuals with symptoms, close contacts to COVID-19 cases, vulnerable residents, and essential workers. The Department of Public Health and California state guidance has identified prioritization tiers to guide institutions and communities in investing limited testing resources.
The City is using data, like the maps and charts shown on this page, to identify and prioritize populations for testing. Based on this data, the City is working to re-align testing resources.
Neighborhoods and communities with high positivity rates and low testing rates are top priorities for the City. Below we outline how the City is working to increase testing rates in these communities most impacted.
Increasing Testing in Communities Most Impacted
The City is partnering with community organizations to co-create testing events specifically for the communities most impacted. At these testing events, community partners and city staff provide resources to support residents as part of a holistic community wellness model.
The City's grant program for community organizations will sustain this collaborative effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support residents.
We also work with community partners to implement culturally responsive outreach and media with messages tailored to communities most affected by COVID-19. Find more resources in English, Spanish, Chinese and Filipino here.
The City supports a network of alternate test sites and community-partnered ‘pop-up’ and semi-permanent testing sites to focus testing capacity in the areas that need it most. This allows us to dynamically respond to the needs of various communities and move mobile testing resources closer to communities with barriers to access. The City has limited mobile testing resources, which means continued outreach and new partnerships are crucial to increase the use of current sites.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health is one of many testing providers in the city. Many of the tests that are shown in the dashboards above are collected by private providers (such as Kaiser, One Medical, UCSF, Sutter, etc.). We engage and work with private providers to ensure all medical providers are working to extend testing to the communities most impacted by COVID-19.
We also continue to monitor this testing data to identify new trends and adapt our testing strategy. We aim to increase the testing rates for communities and neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19 with more limited access to traditional healthcare options. This means working with partners to target the darkest purple areas in the map shown above (those with higher positivity) with more support, resources, testing, education, and preventive measures in the hopes we can lower the impact of COVID.