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Poverty, ‘structural racism’ impact virus’ spread in Marin

August 10, 2020

Catholic San Francisco Article by: Christina Gray and Lorena Rojas

The unequal impact of COVID-19 on Hispanic and Latino communities has been noted with concern and alarm across the country, but the disparity is especially pronounced in affluent Marin County.

People who identify as Hispanic or Latino account for 16% of the county’s population but more than three-quarters of those testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the latest county data. Hispanic and Latino residents also account for more than half of the county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Of the more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases in Marin, nearly two-thirds are in the city of San Rafael, where the low-income Canal neighborhood is home to  many Hispanic and Latino families who support the surrounding economy with limited ability to shield from the disease but elevated risk because many jobs are “essential” ones that require physical presence.

Marin County residents wait in a line that stretched around the block at Canal Alliance in San Rafael for free COVID-19 testing on July 31. COVID-19 is disproportionately infecting the Hispanic and Latino community in Marin County, many of whom live in multi-family or multi-generational housing due to the high cost of housing in Marin. (Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco)

Canal Alliance, a nonprofit organization in San Rafael, is one of those organizations. The agency provides legal services, education and food to immigrants in the Canal but has recently included health services including coronavirus testing, executive director Omar Carrera said.

“People in poor neighborhoods are more exposed to the virus,” said Carrera.

Canal Alliance has become a bridge between the Canal community and the Marin Department of Public Health, coordinating free, walk-in COVID-19 testing on Wednesday and Friday from 1-3 p.m.

Read the rest of this article on Catholic San Francisco website.

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