More COVID-19 cases among N.California low-income communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted everyone equally in Northern California, with the majority of the confirmed cases reported among the lower-income communities across the San Francisco Bay Area, a media report said.

According to the report published on Sunday by the San Francisco Chronicle, the rates of infection are nearly five times higher in neighbourhoods like Oakland’s Fruitvale than in the wealthiest suburbs, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Chronicle analyzed data showing the daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases in each ZIP code since March.

The analysis found that the pandemic grew at a far quicker pace in low-income neighbourhoods where more people couldn’t work from home and where access to critical testing and other resources remained sparse early on.

The most severe impacts were in neighbourhoods already dealing with long-standing health and economic inequities, said public health experts who reviewed the analysis.

Preventing the continued spread will require flooding those areas with financial and medical resources for people who need them most, but local, state and federal officials have been unable to fully patch an already tattered social safety net, according to the experts.

“We knew who was going to be hardest hit as soon as we knew we had a contagious virus. We knew who was still going to have to go into work and live in crowded conditions and be without insurance. We knew where we should have been focusing our efforts from day one,” Kiran Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, was quoted as saying.

By July 7, infection rates in low-income ZIP codes were 4.5 times higher than in high-income ones — 78 cases per 10,000 residents compared with 17 cases per 10,000 — and twice as high as in middle-income areas.

Across the San Francisco Bay Area, many heavily impacted neighborhoods are predominantly low-income communities of colour, the analysis showed.

“We went into COVID with people marginally housed, homeless, in overcrowding living situations, with no living wage, no paid leave, no sick leave,” Alameda County Health Director Kimi Watkins-Tartt was quoted as saying in the report.

“It’s not one thing, it’s not two things, it’s a lot of things all coming together to make this a very difficult thing to prevent in some communities.”

California has so far reported a total of 321,000 COVID-19 cases, with 7,014 deaths.