COVID-19 testing by race or ethnicity

This page shows COVID-19 testing rates and positivity rates by race and ethnicity in San Francisco.

Testing rate by race and ethnicity

Testing rates let us compare how much testing is being done among race/ethnic groups of different sizes. Groups with higher rates have more tests done per 1,000 residents. Rates allow us to compare groups of different sizes, including different race and ethnicity groups.

Data notes and sources

Data notes and sources

View source data

Testing Rate = (all tests / residents) × 1,000

As shown in the formula above, the "testing rate" equals the number of all tests divided by the number of residents in San Francisco. This figure is then multiplied by 1,000 to make it easier to interpret as the number of tests done per 1,000 persons in the group. The rate for each race or ethnicity group includes the tests and residents from only that group.

When a person takes a COVID-19 test, they are asked to provide a locating address. San Francisco test data include tests where a San Francisco address was provided by the person. It also includes tests done in San Francisco where a person did not report any address at all.

The denominator for the testing rate uses the estimated population of each race or ethnicity group in the City. This information comes from the 2019 5 year American Community Survey.

  • Tests missing race or ethnicity are not included on the dashboard, but are included in the public dataset as "Unknown."
  • When a person marks 2 or more races (not including Hispanic/Latino), they are shown as “Multi-Racial.” “Multi-Racial” tests are not included in the dashboard because it does not align with the reporting definitions of the American Community Survey, so we cannot accurately calculate a testing rate. But the data on the number of tests among multi-racial persons is included in the public dataset.
  • When a person is reported to have marked 2 or more race/ethnicities including "Hispanic/Latino", then they will be recorded as "Hispanic/Latino."
  • Tests recorded as “Other” race/ethnicity are not included in the dashboard because it does not align with the reporting definitions of the American Community Survey, so we cannot accurately calculate a testing rate. But this data is included in the public dataset.

This data was deduplicated by individual and date. If a person gets tested several times on the same date, then only 1 test will be included in this data. If a person takes several tests on the same date with different results (such as 1 positive test and 1 negative test), then only the positive test will be recorded. Otherwise, only the 1st test on a date will be included in the data shown above. If a person gets tested several times on different dates, then 1 test for each date will be recorded in this data.

The testing rate is not calculated for groups with fewer than 20 total tests in a month. This is because rates based on very few tests are less reliable. Read more about how this data is updated and validated.

Monthly testing rates are shown after the month ends. This ensures that results over time are comparable by only looking at complete months of data. Because of a 5 day reporting lag, the last month will appear on the dashboard on the 5th of the current month.

The "total tests" include all tests since late February 2020 to present.

Note: the way a person's race or ethnicity group is categorized changed in early February 2022, affecting all historic data and data moving forward. The primarily affected groups are “Hispanic/Latino,” “Other,” and “Multi-Racial.” There is no change to the total number of COVID-19 tests or residents. These changes in categories are the result of more accurately reflecting the Hispanic/Latino population in these data and ongoing improvements to the completeness of these data. Also improved is the completeness of race/ethnicity information for persons with an “Unknown” race/ethnicity reported by their testing provider when another information source reports a more specific race/ethnicity. For example, if the same person tests multiple times and reports a more specific race/ethnicity during one of those times, then the more specific race/ethnicity will take the place of the test which reported an unknown or missing race/ethnicity. These changes also align with the way residents are counted by the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information about this change, read the summary from the public dataset.

Test positivity rate by race and ethnicity

The test positivity rate is the percentage of tests that are positive for COVID-19. This rate shows how common COVID-19 is for a given group. This page shows the positivity rate for each race or ethnicity group. When there are less than 20 positive tests for a group in any month, the test positivity rate is less reliable. This is most common in the groups with the smallest number of residents.

Data notes and sources

Data notes and sources

View source data

Test positivity rate = positive tests / (positive + negative tests)

The test positivity rate is the percent of tests that have a positive result for COVID-19. To calculate it, we divided the number of positive tests by the total number of positive and negative tests. The positivity rate does not include indeterminate tests. An indeterminate test is one that does not clearly show if it is positive or negative. This is rare but happens sometimes when there are problems with the specimen or test.

The total number of positive tests is not equal to the total number of new cases. For more information, read the summary of the public dataset.

  • Tests where race or ethnicity was reported as “Unknown”" or “Other” are not included in the data above, but are included in the public dataset.
  • When a person is reported to have marked 2 or more races (not including Hispanic/Latino), they are shown as “Multi-Racial.”
  • When a person is reported to have marked 2 or more race/ethnicities including "Hispanic/Latino" they will be recorded as "Hispanic/Latino."

The "total tests" include all those since late February 2020 to present.

“Positivity rates over time” show test positivity rate for each month among each race/ethnicity group. In the chart showing trends over time, case data is shown for the current month after 15 days of data have been reported. This ensures that estimates are more reliable. Because of the 5 day reporting lag, the current month’s data will start to be reported on the 20th of the month.

Note: the way a person's race or ethnicity group is categorized changed in early February 2022, affecting all historic data and data moving forward. The primarily affected groups are “Hispanic/Latino,” “Other,” and “Multi-Racial.” There is no change to the total number of COVID-19 tests or residents. These changes in categories are the result of more accurately reflecting the Hispanic/Latino population in these data and ongoing improvements to the completeness of these data. Also improved is the completeness of race/ethnicity information for persons with an “Unknown” race/ethnicity reported by their testing provider when another information source reports a more specific race/ethnicity. For example, if the same person tests multiple times and reports a more specific race/ethnicity during one of those times, then the more specific race/ethnicity will take the place of the test which reported an unknown or missing race/ethnicity.  These changes also align with the way residents are counted by the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information about this change, read the summary from the public dataset.

COVID-19 harm and structural racism

COVID-19 has harmed communities of color more than other groups.

Structural racism is tied to health inequities. An example of this association is discriminatory housing policies. Policies like urban renewal and redlining led to racial segregation. These policies also led to disparities in home ownership and home values. Such policies create unequal access to healthcare facilities where COVID-19 testing often takes places. Lack of equal employment opportunities also impact testing access.

 Learn more about COVID-19 and health equity.

Increasing testing in communities most harmed

Communities with high positivity rates and low testing rates are a top priority. We are working to increase testing in these communities.

City strategies 

We partner with communities to create testing events. These include alternate test sites and “pop up” sites. We also work together to make multicultural outreach and media for all residents in the City. If you want to read more about testing resources in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino, go to the COVID-19 testing options page on SF.gov. We also work with private health care providers to make sure everyone has access to testing resources. We continue to use data and community feedback to improve our work.