A small Northern California town is one of the first places in the world to attempt to test all its residents for the coronavirus, according to new reports.
Almost every resident in the remote Marin County town of Bolinas — population: 1,600 — have registered for free drive-thru testing conducted by staffers at the University of California, San Francisco as part of a new study, KGO-TV reported.
“We know very little about how the virus moves through in a community setting,” organizer Dr. Aenor Saywer from UCSF, a Bolinas resident, told the station. “That’s our motivation for doing this.”
Since Monday, residents of the hamlet have had four days to visit a pop-up testing site to receive nasal swabs to determine whether they have the virus — and submit for a finger prick test for antibodies, CNN reported.
“We’re testing for both active viral infections, via nucleic acid, PCR test and for antibodies to detect if people had previously been exposed to the virus,” another project organizer Cyrus Harmon, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, told KNTV.
While testing is voluntary, organizers want everyone on board.
“I haven’t heard of anyone who has not volunteered to be tested, to be quite honest with you,” one resident told the outlet.
More than 700 residents were tested in the town during the first two days, with 302 people on Monday and another 416 on Tuesday, venture capitalist Jyri Engestrom, who helped fund the project, told CNN.
Several wealthy tech entrepreneurs have chipped in, including Mark Pincus — the founder of mobile social gaming company Zynga — who contributed the first $100,000, according to the report.
A GoFundMe page helped raise about $400,000 needed for the entire operation.
Beginning on Saturday, study organizers will turn their attention to an entirely different California community.
The nearly 6,000 residents of San Francisco’s much more densely inhabited Mission District will have four days of their own to submit for the testing, according to CNN.
Last month, San Miguel County in southwestern Colorado attempted a similar effort, but put it on hold when the lab ran into trouble conducting the tests, the network reported.
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