SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Throughout Santa Clara County, COVID-19 testing rates are increasing rapidly — far exceeding the state’s median. 

The county has since launched a door-to-door testing initiative — in an effort to stop the spread of the virus in communities like East San Jose — where the positivity rate is much higher than the county average. 

“The situation is dire with COVID -19 as we all know and it was of urgent priority to work in close partnership with our community leaders to address the myriad of challenges and barriers that exist related to COVID,” said Dr. Analilia Garcia, Santa Clara County racial and health equity director.  

“There were inequities, deeply-rooted inequities and challenges for our Latinx families in East San Jose as one example but by extension many families across our county and across our region are experiencing barriers and challenges,” Garcia added. 

“Not only for testing and information but also just over the economic impact of COVID.”

In partnership with community organizations and leaders, the program offers free self-administered tests through nose swabs. 

The program aims to focus on neighborhoods in East San Jose, where county officials say 55% of the Latinx population have difficulty in accessing COVID-19 tests. 

“With this intervention it was really important that we address the fear, the mistrust, the misinformation that exists on all things COVID-realted,” said Garcia. 

“What happens if I am positive? That is a big question that we get … that then stirs a lot of emotions, fears and anxiety related to COVID.”  

In Santa Clara County, the Latinx community has been significantly hit hard with 55.4% of all COVID-19 cases while making up only 25.7% of the total county population. 

Currently, the county is experiencing a big surge in cases and as of Wednesday only 12% capacity of the county’s intensive care units are available — with nearly 40% percent of occupied ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

Community leaders from Mujeres Empresarias Tomando Accion (META) and SOMOS Mayfair spearheaded the initiative — going out to communities where they have strong relationships — in an effort to get as many people tested as possible.

“We launched the door-to-door testing intervention last Thursday, we are looking at a pilot for the next month or so to better understand the impact, better understand the lessons from this very important work,” said Garcia.

“That will then inform how we scale, how we expand, and most importantly how we do this work.”