Testing in Mission Shows Virus Hits Workers, Latinos at High Levels

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Coronavirus testing in the Mission District on April 27, 2020. Barbara Ries / UCSF

A Mission District coronavirus testing initiative has shown stark disparities in who has been getting sick — 95% of those who tested positive in this initiative identified as Hispanic or Latinx. Most earned less than $50,000 a year. But evidence of this disparity had been mounting even prior to the testing, when doctors in San Francisco hospitals saw that the majority of the coronavirus patients who needed to be hospitalized were also Latino.

Dr. Carina Marquez, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and an infectious disease doctor at San Francisco’s general hospital, said not only do the tests show a disparity in who is getting sick, but that the virus is still spreading in the community even as many residents have been staying home for weeks. The initiative tested both those who lived and worked in the area. Among all those tested, less than 2% tested positive. Among people who worked in the testing area, that figure was 6.1%.

“That number is really large and sort of unexpected to us. And really just sort of a call to action to really make sure that we’re reaching these people who are out working and who are at highest risk, and make sure that we’re able to reach people for testing. And then, if they test positive, that we’ll be able to support them in isolation and quarantine.” — Dr. Carina Marquez


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