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East Oakland pop-up COVID-19 testing site aims to attract Black community

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A pop-up COVID-19 testing site with a goal of attracting African American residents in East Oakland wrapped up Friday.

A doctor tells KRON4’s Haaziq Madyun the pop-up sites are part of an effort to increase trust in being tested for COVID-19 in the Black community.

“I am here to get tested because it is bigger than me. It is about other people around me.”

East Oakland’s building opportunity for self sufficiency at the corner of 90th Avenue and MacArthur is the location of another COVID19 pop-up test site. The testing event is called Umoja Health the Town and All Around.

“The idea here with Umoja is we’re trying to bring the testing to the people,” Dr. Kim Rhoads, UCSF, said.

Associate professor of Epidemiology at UCSF Dr. Kim Rhoads says one of the primary goals for the pop-up clinic is to improve the current testing rate of 20% for Black people in Alameda County.

“So that means 80% of the tests are going to other people even though those clinics are available in neighborhoods where Black and African Americans live,” Dr. Rhoads said.

The low turnout for free testing is part of long standing skepticism stemming from Black people unknowingly being used for medical experiments in the 1930’s by the U.S. Department of Public Health Service.

“People are worried that we might be trying to give them COVID, and we have heard that as we try to mobilize communities to come out for testing,” Dr. Rhoads said. “I just want to emphasis that we are not doing any research on black people, but what we are trying to research is what are the best ways to engage with the Black and African American community.”

She says that starts with seeing familiar faces at these pop-up test sites.

“We ‘re trying to work with credible messengers that have been in the community for a long time,” Dr. Rhoads said. “So it doesn’t look like it is ucsf telling people what to do.”

East Oakland residents can receive free testing for the COVID-19 virus and the antibody testing Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Center of Hope Community Church at 84th Avenue and MacArthur.

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