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What reopening businesses could mean for Latinx community in San Francisco

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – As San Francisco began reopening more of its businesses Thursday, there are concerns about how it will impact one of the hardest-hit communities, like the Latinx population who make up more than 42% of COVID cases in the city.

The only rapid testing site in the Mission District has been one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods during the pandemic. 

Now as we continue to open more businesses, the Latino Task Force says more testing sites like this one and other resources need to be put in place.

While it’s exciting to see San Francisco businesses like restaurants reopen, it may come at a cost to the Latinx community.

According to city data, as of Monday, the Latinx population accounted for more than 42% of COVID-19 cases in San Francisco and they only make up 14% of the city population.

“There’s a lot of talk about reopening, bringing things back online but there’s complete neglect into what’s happening in some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in our state and in our city. The Mission District currently we’re doing a project where we’re testing practically daily and what I can tell you is we have infection rates as high as 14% when the citywide average is 4% but there’s no talk about additional services or support to be able to ensure that as we open we’re protecting those hardest hit,” Jon Jacobo said.

Jon Jacobo, with the Latino Task Force, says more supportive services like the ones available at their 24th and Mission Streets testing hub are needed to protect these communities and therefore protect the rest of the city.

Epidemiologist Janet Wojcicki authored a study supporting the need for more resources for these communities. 

She found that the Latinx population’s high positivity rates are related to their higher risk jobs as essential workers and their crowded living conditions.

“It’s related to the inequities in terms of poverty that certain communities prior to COVID had increased rates of poverty and because of that they don’t have an option in terms of where they can live, where they can work, and whether they can really shelter in place,” Wojcicki said.

She says the population is also more likely to have severe reactions to the virus.

“When they are infected, they’re more likely to have a severe course including death and some of that is related to underlying risk factors, obesity, type 2 diabetes, but also access to medical care,” Wojcicki said.

The Latino Task Force hopes the city and state will work together to bring more testing sites like this to the communities hit hardest. 

This testing site at 24th and Mission Streets reopens on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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