news 6 days ago

UCSF study in Bay Area neighborhood reveals 10% of those tested have COVID-19 antibody

SFGate, San Francisco — Amy Graff SFGate, San Francisco

Oct. 16-- Oct. 16--UC San Francisco released a preliminary analysis Thursday of data from a coronavirus testing effort in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood and it confirmed what other similar studies have found: The novel coronavirus disproportionately affects the Latino community.

UCSF, in conjunction with local community groups, offered free, voluntary COVID-19 testing Sept. 26 and 27 in Fruitvale, a corner of Alameda County that has had the highest rates of COVID. Fruitvale is 50% Latino and home to one of the largest Mayan-speaking populations outside of Mexico, according to UCSF. Many residents live in multigenerational households.

Nearly 2,000 people were tested for either active infection or antibodies.

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A total of 1,099 people were tested for active infection with nose swabs, and of those, 4% tested positive (29 adults and 10 children).

Of those with coronavirus, 95% were Latino, though they represented 62% of individuals tested, according to UCSF.

Of the 859 individuals (803 adults and 56 children) who were tested for the COVID-19 antibody, 10% were positive, suggesting past infection. Latino individuals had a positivity rate of 12% and those of Mayan heritage 27%.

At a Friday morning press conference, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called the study results "disturbing but not unexpected data" revealing the health disparities in the city. "And let's be honest, in the world," she added.

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"Our data further identifies the Mam speaking, Mayan population as particularly high risk within the Latino community," Dr. Alicia Fernandez, a professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Latinx Center of Excellence, said in a statement. "More testing and targeted public health messaging are needed, as are efforts to make essential work safer."

Researchers also gathered data to examine the overall impact of the pandemic and found 25% of Latinos who received a nose swab test have seen a reduction in income, 15% have lost their jobs and 42% face food insecurity. Sixty-one percent of Mam (Mayan) speakers said they were food insecure.

"It is not new that we are the underserved and one of the most vulnerable groups in the area, and now with COVID-19 we are facing an even greater crisis especially with access to health services, housing, food and financial support. That is why we are here today, we are here to ask for more testing and assistance with essential needs," Rosendo Aguilar, Fruitvale community member and Mam speaker, said in a statement.

UCSF study conducted a similar effort in San Francisco's Mission District in April and found 95% of positive individuals were of Latino heritage.

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