Public Health

Where to Get Tested for Coronavirus COVID-19 in San Francisco?

Alyssa Orcuilo21 Nov 2020

Where to Get Tested for Coronavirus COVID-19 in San Francisco?


Quick Digest:

  • As of November 21, 2020, there are 14,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Francisco with 156 COVID related deaths
  • San Francisco endorsed new suspensions and restrictions on capacity limits of certain activities
  • Self-screening and quarantine is the best option if you think you are infected
  • Even if one is asymptomatic, they could still spread the virus to others.
  • San Fransisco issued a mask policy in public places effective Friday, April 17, 2020 

Always Screen Yourself First, And Do It Periodically

The following are a few of the questions you can expect to find in this self-screening test:

  1. Are you currently dealing with flu or cold symptoms (fever, chills, trouble breathing)?
  2. Have you traveled to a high-risk location in the past couple of weeks?
  3. Have you been close to anyone confirmed to have the virus?
  4. When was the last time you attended an event with more than 10 people?

It is important to consider that symptoms can be very mild for some people. A big concern is that someone can be asymptomatic and they can still spread the virus to others. This is the reason why experts recommend social distancing.


San Francisco's New COVID Restrictions:

Office Facilities

RESTRICTED as of Nov 17, 2020

Nonessential offices may continue with Minimum Basic Operations as outlined in the Health Order, but are otherwise suspended.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

RESTRICTED as of Nov 17, 2020

Total Capacity Limits reduced to 10% or 50 people, whichever is fewer. The total number of people includes Personnel and all other people in the facility,

Indoor Dining

SUSPENDED as of Nov 14, 2020

No Indoor Dining allowed. Suspended until further notice.

Indoor Movie Theaters

RESTRICTED as of Nov 14, 2020

For indoor movie theater complexes with multiple individual theaters, the capacity limit for the entire complex is 25%, and the limit for each individual theater or auditorium is 50 people.

Read more here.


Getting Tested for COVID-19 in San Francisco

There are several medical centers in the San Francisco Bay Area that are conducting COVID-19 testing.

Additionally, COVID-19 testing is free for residents of San Fransisco who present with symptoms and for essential workers if tested at a CityTestSF location. You must wear a mask upon arrival. You can reserve a time for a test at one of these locations using the following link. These are the two CityTestSF locations:


Pier 30/32 San Francisco, CA 94105

Hours: Sun to Sat, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm


600 7th St San Francisco, CA 94103

Hours: Mon to Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

These locations are additional testing sites that may incur a cost for testing:

Kaiser Permanente
They provide drive through testing for Kaiser members and they deliver the results within 7 days, so be sure to practice self-quarantine while you wait for the diagnosis. Those who want to get this test done need a doctor‚s referral to be identified as possible coronavirus carriers.

This test is only conducted on people who are hospitalized, so you can‚t see it as an option if you are simply suspicious that you could be carrying the virus.

Carbon Health
Carbon Health is an urgent care chain that conducts testing at its clinics. According to the website, depending on the insurance (or no insurance), the out-of-pocket cost starts at $145 per visit with a $50-$150 additional cost for lab tests. With that said, they do encourage people to take the self-assessment test before they get tested. You can get your results within three to six days.

Stanford Medicine
They also require a referral from a physician before they conduct this test on anyone. One of the advantages with this particular location is that they will give you the test results within one day at most.

This network of primary care centers is providing tests for members only, starting at $149/monthly. Their process requires that you take a remote assessment test and once this concludes, the care team will determine if a test is required based on your assessment results. 

Practice Social Distancing And Self-Quarantine

Self-quarantine means to stay in a single location for a period of time by your own choice. If you are to share the same living space with others, they should also self-quarantine in order for this process to work.

If you go out, practice social distancing, this is also the case even if you are planning to visit places that are not too crowded. Leave at least 6ft between young and another person and avoid touching your face at all times.

As of April 17th, San Fransisco implemented a new health order for residents and workers to wear face coverings while in public for essential needs. You should refrain from wearing medical masks, such as the N-95 mask, as these supplies are needed for healthcare workers. Appropriate masks may be made of cloth and cover the mouth and nose. Please note: wearing masks is not a substitute for washing hands, staying home, or social distancing. Do not put a mask on a child under the age of 2 years old, as masks can increase the risk of suffocation for young children. You should also carry hand sanitizer with you and use it every time you touch something in a public area. These basic guidelines prove to be very effective against this virus.

Self-quarantine is the best way to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading


What to Expect from the Test

Some people are afraid of needles and they don't want to have their blood drawn out. Luckily, the coronavirus test only requires a swab on your throat to collect a sample. The test is pretty simple, painless, and convenient.

If your test comes out negative but you are still displaying symptoms, a blood test may be required to ensure accurate results and discard the possibility of having the virus.

The test is conducted by a health care professional and the results are most likely sent over to a public health laboratory for results. If you test negative or positive, they should let you know with the next few days. Health officers are working diligently to help the public.

The nose swab and throat swab that is likely to be taken during testing for COVID-19


How Much Will Testing Cost?

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom declared that 24 million Californians would have access to a free screening and testing for the virus (whether you have healthcare or not). Including co-pays and deductibles for a hospital and doctor's office visit associated with the test. However, if a person is sick and needs further treatment and care aside from COVID-19, that cost is not required to be waived.

Note that Newsom‚s order does not apply to people who work for large employers and whose private health plans are regulated by the federal government.

There are several start-ups shipping at-home test kits at this point. The cost varies from $150 to $250.

It is not clear, however, how accurate these kits would be since the nasopharyngeal swab requires reaching deep into the nasal cavity - which could be extremely uncomfortable for some and hard to do if you are not a trained healthcare professional.

The California Department of Public Health has said that people who are uninsured and have symptoms should contact their local health department for information on how to get tested.


Healthcare Can Be Confusing, Here Are More Resources:




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