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Neighborhoods like the Canal are where we will win or lose our fight against Covid-19

September 18, 2020

The Business Journal article by: Jim Gardner

Covid testing in San Rafael has brought the Canal outbreak under control. – Image by: The Business Journal

In this week’s edition, we asked our reporters and editors to detail how six months of Covid-19 and shelter-in-place have changed the neighborhoods where they live. They came back with vivid, compelling stories.

But as I read them I couldn’t help thinking about other neighborhoods as well — ones where, by and large, business leaders or even business journalists don’t live, ones that are more easily overlooked.

One such neighborhood, one near me, is the Canal district of San Rafael in Marin County.

It’s not far from the upscale communities and multi-million dollar homes for which Marin is known (or notorious, depending on your perspective.)

But it’s in every sense a world apart from it: Low-income, majority Hispanic, a 2.5-square-mile jumble of aging apartments, auto repair shops and industrial buildings wedged against two freeways. 

It’s a place where the Bay Area’s housing crisis has been hard at work, with steadily rising rents meaning that more than one family often lives under the same roof, many with members now unemployed or working jobs that can’t be done from home.

Those conditions created the perfect environment for the opportunistic Covid virus to flourish. While Latinos represent barely 16% of the Marin population, they account for 70% of the infections. Nowhere more so than in the Canal, with far and away the most Covid cases of any neighborhood in  Marin County.

As Omar Carrera, who runs the highly regarded community nonprofit Canal Alliance notes, structural inequalities in the Canal long predate the pandemic, but Covid has made them far worse.

Read the full article on the The Business Journals website.

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