Latinx Community Still Highly Impacted by COVID-19, Leaders Plead for Help

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Oakland's Latinx community and especially those who identify as Mayan Latinx are still being hit hard by COVID-19, according to results of testing last month.

At a news briefing Friday morning in Oakland's Fruitvale district, Mayor Libby Schaaf and other community leaders spoke about the results, which they said were alarming and sadly not surprising.

Twenty-nine adults and 10 children tested positive and 78 adults and six children tested positive for an antibody, indicating that they once had the virus.

"Unfortunately, this community is highly impacted," Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said at the briefing.

Zip code 94601, which includes the Fruitvale community where many Latinx people live, has more positive cases than anywhere else in Alameda County. Chan emphasized that children also get the disease.

More than 5 percent of Latinx community members tested positive and that number rose to more than 8 percent for the Mayan Latinx community, compared with 3.6 percent in the overall population.

Among participants who did not describe themselves as Latinx, 0.5 percent tested positive for the coronavirus.

Aaron Ortiz, CEO of La Familia, which provides mental health and community support services in the Bay Area, asked for more help for the Latinx community from cities and counties, among other entities.

"We are begging you," he said.

Ortiz said his community is not only facing the COVID-19 pandemic but an equity pandemic.

About 950 adults were tested and about 140 children. About 800 adults and 56 children were given an antibody test. The testing was done by the University of California at San Francisco in partnership with community
groups such as La Familia.

"The COVID PCR and antibody data confirm that Latinos in the East Bay are disproportionately infected with COVID-19," said Dr. Alicia Fernandez, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Latinx Center of Excellence, in a statement.

"More testing and targeted public health messaging are needed, as are efforts to make essential work safer," she said.

Many Latinx residents are essential workers like those in childcare and agriculture.

Thirty-one percent of workers considered frontline essential workers in the Bay Area are Latinx, according to the Bay Area Equity Atlas, a tool to help policymakers increase equity, sustainability and resilience in the region.

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