COVID-19 Cases Skyrocketing in South Bay Communities

San Diego County is reporting a seven-day rate of 77 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in Otay Mesa alone

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Some neighborhoods in San Diego County are dealing with much higher rates of COVID-19 transmission than others.

In the South Bay, San Diego County is reporting a seven-day unadjusted case rate of 77 cases per 100,000 residents in the 92154 ZIP code, which covers Otay Mesa. The county's overall unadjusted case rate is about 53.

"It’s a terrible situation. We have no option but to continue to work because the bills don't stop," said Otay Mesa resident Martin Arias.

Arias explained how many of his neighbors are essential workers who don't have the option to work from home.

"I think we're being disproportionately impacted because there's a lot of blue-collar workers here and essential workers, like my dad for instance. He has to go out. If not, he can't pay the mortgage," said Arias.

While the community grapples with fighting off the virus, they are also dealing with different circumstances.

"We're seeing a lot of need in the Latino community and we are seeing the COVID-19 rates unfortunately going up very high," said Adriana Bearse, manager of research health at San Ysidro Health.

San Ysidro Health offers free COVID-19 testing along with a follow-up telehealth visit regardless of insurance. They also assist families in getting temporary housing so they can isolate themselves if needed, which can be a huge relief to large families or families that live in multi-generational households.

"I think our community wants to help their rates go down and nobody wants to be in a situation where we're having all of the rates of infection going up," said Bearse.

Local leaders say there are many resources available to residents, but there is a big push in trying to make testing sites, financial aid and other services accessible to those who need it most.

During the summer the county hired 'promotoras,' or community health workers who were spreading information in Latino communities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"I understand the county has hired promotoras which is great, but I hate to say I feel like it was a little too late in that, you know, we're already in the second wave and people just aren't taking this too seriously until it hits home," said Arias.

Health leaders are concerned it will be sometime before cases do begin to drop due to the upcoming holidays that are likely to attract gatherings.

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