COVID-19 testing by race or ethnicity

COVID-19 testing rates and percent positivity by race and ethnicity in San Francisco.

Testing rate by race and ethnicity

Testing rates enable us to compare how much testing there is among groups of different sizes. Groups with higher rates have had more tests per 1,000 residents. Rates allow us to compare groups of different sizes.

Data notes and sources

View source data

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

We calculate the testing rate for each race or ethnicity group by: 

  • Total number of San Francisco tests 
  • Divide by total San Francisco residents  
  • Multiply by 1,000 

San Francisco tests include any tests where either of the following are true: 

  • The patient listed a San Francisco home address 
  • The test was collected within San Francisco but had a missing home address 

Tests by race and ethnicity include all San Francisco tests where a race or ethnicity was listed. Tests missing race or ethnicity are not on the dashboard, but they are in the public dataset.  

San Francisco population estimates for each race or ethnicity are from the 2019 5-year American Community Survey. 

Tests for individuals who identified as "Other" or “Multi-racial” are not shown on this dashboard. These categories do not align with the American Community Survey definitions, so we cannot calculate a rate. They are instead included in the public dataset. 

This data was de-duplicated by individual and date. If a person gets tested several times on different dates, all tests are included in this data.  

The testing rate is not calculated for groups with fewer than 20 total tests in a month. This is because rates of small test counts are less reliable. We calculate a testing rate for all groups combined to provide a helpful comparison measure. We calculate this combined rate by:  

  • Total tests for all race/ethnicity groups shown (excluding missing, “Multi-Racial,” and "Other") 
  • Divide by the San Francisco population of all groups shown

Read more about how this data is updated and validated.

Monthly testing rates are shown once a month is completed. This ensures that monthly estimates are comparable. Because of the five-day lag, this will be on the 5th of the following month.  

The cumulative totals include all tests collected since late February 2020 to present.

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 widespread COVID-19 is for a given race or ethnicity group.  When there are less than 20 positive tests for a race or ethnicity group, the test positivity rate is less reliable. This is most common in the groups with the smallest resident populations.

Data notes and sources

View source data

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

The test positivity rate is the percentage of tests that have a positive result for COVID-19. The positivity rate does not include indeterminate or negative results.  

Positive test ≠ new case  

The total number of positive tests is not equal to the total number of new cases. The City verifies each positive test result. During this verification, some positive tests may not represent a new case. For example: 

  • If one person tested positive several times, that represents only one case 
  • During interviews, we could find that a test is for a person living outside of San Francisco 

Tests for individuals who identified as "Other" are not shown on the dashboard. Patients rarely report this category, so we cannot compare it with others. The public data set includes these records.

The cumulative totals include all tests collected since late February 2020 to present.

Monthly positivity rates are shown once we have 15 days of data in the current month. This ensures that monthly estimates are reliable. Because of the five-day lag, this will be on the 20th of each month.

COVID-19 harm and structural racism

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

Structural racism is closely tied to these inequities. For example, consider discriminatory housing policies like redlining and urban renewal; these policies resulted in racial segregation and disparities in both homeownership rates and home values. These policies also caused an unequal distribution of access to healthcare facilities, which impacts access to testing.  Other factors linked to structural racism like a lack of employment opportunities also impacts testing access. 

Learn more about COVID-19 disparities and inequities.  

Increasing testing in communities most harmed

Communities with high test positivity rates and low testing rates are our top priorities. We are working to increase testing rates in these communities.  

City strategies 

We partner with communities to create community testing events. These include alternate test sites and “pop-up” sites.

We also work with community partners to launch culturally responsive outreach and media. See testing resources in English, Spanish, Chinese and Filipino

We collaborate with private providers. Many tests are collected by private providers (like Kaiser, One Medical, or Sutter). We work with private providers to ensure testing coverage and availability is extended to priority communities.  

We continue to use data and community feedback to adapt our strategies.