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Latinx community faces increased risk of contracting COVID-19, UCSF study shows

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — COVID-19 test studies are exposing vulnerabilities.

Last month, UCSF tested nearly 3,000 residents and workers in San Francisco’s Mission District. The study found around 90% of positive cases are a high number of Latinos.

One of the takeaways of this study is that social distancing works, but not all have the privilege to do so.

Among the nearly 3,000 people who tested for COVID-19 in San Fancisco’s Mission District last month, 62 people came back positive – 95% of them Latinx.

“The majority of the people had lower income, and I think one of the key things is that the majority of people who were positive compared to the overall population were unable to work from home, were unable to shelter in place,” Dr. Carina Marquez said.

Marquez is the assistant professor of medicine and associate director of education in the division of HIV, infectious diseases, and global medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The testing was conducted by Unidos en Salud, a unique partnership between mission community organizers in the Latino task force for COVID-19, UC San Francisco researchers, the city and county of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), which have come together to inform and mobilize a population that was not being reached by current testing and care systems.

It was the second half of a two part study with UCSF researchers looking into the spread of the virus in both rural and urban areas.

More than 1,800 residents got tested in Bolinas in West Marin County – there were no positive cases but scientists found it is easier to physically distance in the small coastal town.

Dr. Carina Marquez is one of the lead investigators of the study.

“It’s the people that are essential workers who are out working, who need to work outside of the home that had a higher prevalence or higher amount of disease,” she said.

Dr. Marquez says testing exposes vulnerabilities that existed and it’s time to respond, not just in the Mission but nationwide.

Jon Jacobo is chair of the Latino Task Force for COVID-19 and one of the partners of the study.

“What we need is to address the major inequities that exist, not just in the Mission community but that have the same kind of results in communities like the Bronx in New York or in Chicago,” Jacobo said.

The study found those who had the privilege to work from home did not test positive.

“People need to work to pay their bills and if we can’t support them through that then I’m not sure we’re doing what we need to as a city,” Jacobo said.

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronan is introducing legislation to have wage support to make sure people don’t lose income when in self isolation.

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