According to a report released by the Chicano Federation Monday, there are significant and systemic barriers preventing Latinos from receiving COVID-19 testing and participating in contact tracing efforts in San Diego County.
However, the report, "Perceptions of Contact Tracing Among San Diego Latinos," finds that Latinos in San Diego can and will participate in testing and contact tracing if the county's testing, tracing and treatment strategy -- also known as T3 -- is available in both Spanish and English, addresses privacy and financial concerns and removes isolation barriers.
The Chicano Federation -- established in 1969 to provide neighborhood-based services to underserved youth, families and seniors across San Diego County -- reported that the brunt of the coronavirus has fallen on Spanish- speaking Latinos and the county's response to help this community has been seriously lacking.
Of the more than 46,000 COVID-19 cases in the county to date, Latinos account for nearly 66% and nearly half of the 776 fatalities due to the illness. The group makes up around 35% of the county's total population.
"The County of San Diego's T3 strategy has emphasized the importance of testing, tracing, and treatment to mitigate and contain the pandemic," said Nancy Maldonado, Chicano Federation CEO. "With contact tracing as a key element of mitigating COVID-19, it was critical to gauge the perceptions of and barriers to contact tracing among our most impacted communities."
The federation's report found the county's vulnerable communities must have access to community-focused tools, resources and tailored language outreach in both Spanish and English to create safe spaces for Latinos by encouraging them to participate in testing and contact tracing.
With grant funding from healthcare company Falck and support logistical and training support from UC San Diego, interviews were conducted with nearly 40 Latino residents in Spanish and English. Participants were asked about their knowledge and perceptions of barriers and facilitators to the county's T3 efforts.
The interviewers found that:
- San Diego's Latino community feels strongly about its social responsibility to protect their family and community;
- Linguistic and culturally tailored outreach to Spanish-speaking communities and high-incidence areas throughout the region is key;
- Outreach efforts must be transparent and proactive about data privacy concerns and financial implications of the costs associated with testing;
- Barriers to isolation are structural and will require structural solutions; and
- It's possible to build on community strengths by endorsing the need for community responsibility and care.
"During this global pandemic we have seen a disproportionate impact on San Diego's Latino community," said Dannie Wurtz, Falck's director of clinical operations. "With the understanding that data and research are absolutely crucial to enable us to take action on an informed basis, our aspiration with this grant is to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on San Diego Latinos and the community as a whole."