Mass testing for COVID-19 is something communities around the globe want but something difficult to do due to testing kit availability and the cost of getting them. Regions vary in terms of population and the areas that have smaller populations are likely to have higher chances of getting something done. One town in California plans to do so in the coming days.
According to the Mercury News, the remote Bay Area town of Bolinas will become one of the first communities in the world to attempt mass COVID-19 testing for its residents. Bolinas has a population of 1,600 and will start offering free tests starting Monday that will run until Thursday. The community-wide testing was made possible through the efforts of two locals in the area, venture capitalist Jyri Engestrom and pharmaceutical company executive Cyrus Harmon. Practically the whole town signed up for mass-testing Friday last week.
The Los Angeles Times detailed how things will be done. It will be a drive-through test that will involve a mouth and throat swab. This will help check if there is an active infection in individuals. Aside from that, there will also be a finger-prick to detect antibodies. This will be a critical step to identify individuals who may already have the virus. The project cost is roughly $400,000 and backed by private donations. The second round of testing is planned after two weeks, although that depends if enough funds are raised.
“There are two paired sites that are going on right now: One here in Bolinas, which is very rural and people are quite separated and it’s isolated. And another, less than an hour’s drive away, in the Mission District of San Francisco, where it’s very densely populated, people, live very close to each other, and it’s very connected,” Dr. Bryan Greenhouse, an assistant professor at UCSF and one of the study’s researchers, said.
The first wave of testing in Bolina is the first of a two-part study for the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). Researchers will try to examine the spread of the disease both in rural and urban areas to know more about the COVID-19 virus spread. If the second wave gets enough financial support, the second location will be at Mission District, a vibrant inner-city neighborhood with Latino roots in San Francisco, according to Reuters.