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San Diego County launches COVID-19 outreach campaign for Latinos

Posted at 6:38 AM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 09:39:08-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The county of San Diego is hoping to help curb the spread of COVID-19 among Latinos in the county with a new campaign announced on Tuesday.

County numbers show Latinos are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Out of the 24,000 confirmed cases in the county, 60% are Latino, but Latinos only make up 34% of the county's population.

Out of the 487 coronavirus deaths in the county, 45% of those were Latinos, 38% were White and 12% were Asian.

The new outreach campaign will consist of signage in Spanish, with reminders to wear facial coverings and maintain social distance. The county says they are also reaching out on TV, radio and online with resources for the Latino community.

Although there is no exact reason for why Latinos are disproportionately affected by this pandemic, county leaders say reasons could include the fact that many Latinos are essential workers, live in multi-generational families and some have underlying health conditions.

The county says it's goal is to make sure Latinos have the information they need to protect themselves and their families, encouraging them to get tested and participate if they are called by a contact tracer.

To slow the spread of the virus, the county has expanded testing throughout the region, especially in the South Bay. Currently, more than 50% of all testing is being done in this region.

The county opened its newest COVID-19 testing site in Imperial Beach last week. This new location brings the total number to six testing sites in South County. Additional testing sites are located in San Ysidro, two in Chula Vista and two in National City.

"We've not only expanded our testing, but we've also increased our contact tracing in the region," said Barbara Jimenez, director for the Central and South regions of the County Health and Human Services Agency.

Jimenez has been spearheading the county's outreach efforts in South Bay communities and has been working with city mayors and other partners to get prevention, testing and tracing messages to area residents.

"We all need to follow the health prevention messages we've been promoting on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Let's take care of ourselves, our families and our community," Jimenez said.

The county has also increased its contact tracing capabilities and now has more than 500 disease investigators and contact tracers who are calling people who tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts so that they place themselves in isolation or self-quarantine. Nearly 100 more case investigators will come on board this week and the county will be hiring another 200 from the more than 2,300 job applications it recently received.

In collaboration with San Diego State University, the county is deploying about 100 specially trained community health workers and public health students as tracers. They will help perform contact tracing in underserved communities.

City News Service contributed to this report