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Why coronavirus cases continue to surge in South Sacramento

From many families that don't have an option to work from home to a lag of setting up testing sites, South Sacramento continues to be a coronavirus hot spot.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — In the heart of South Sacramento, as families are still going to work and planning Thanksgiving gatherings, coronavirus cases on this edge of Sacramento County are surging.

Nearly a third of cases in the county are in South Sacramento in the zip codes 95823, 95831, 95828, 95624, 95829, 95822, 95758 and 95820.

"The families in a lot of the areas that we're serving, they don't have the luxury of maybe being able to stay home and not work," Kim Williams, the Hub Director of Sacramento Building Healthy Communities said.

Experts at Sierra Health Foundation and the La Familia Counseling Center said it trickles down to these reasons:

  • Many essential workers live in this area
  • Larger immigrant families all living under one roof 
  • Lack of access to healthcare or transportation
  • Lag of setting up testing sites in South Sacramento
  • Lower income neighborhoods
  • Systemic racism
  • Population density

"And then also, of course, disadvantaged communities because they do have a number of factors that put them at risk, they tend to be in more crowded households (and) multigenerational households. They also tend to have higher levels of chronic disease and so all of these put them at risk," said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County Public Health Officer.

Williams said finances play a factor too.

"If they don't have enough income coming in, the choice between feeding their kids and buying a can of Lysol, they have to make those decisions," she said.

That's why there are multiple community-based testing sites already embedded into the South Sacramento area.

"So to be able to have testing sites within community organizations where people are already coming, where they already have a relationship and trust with those organizations really made a difference," said Rachel Rios, the Executive Director of the La Familia Counseling Center.

This includes the La Familia Maple Neighborhood Center, which tests up to 500 people every Monday and has workers speaking five different languages to help build better trust.

"Just having those languages really assure them, we do see that the community will ask us more questions because now we speak their language," said Mao Vang, a Youth and Health Program Manager for the La Familia Counseling Center.

There are two other testing sites specifically in the South Sacramento area. Tetteh Pediatric Health in South Land Park is open on Wednesdays and the South Sacramento Christian Center is open on Fridays. 

All of them have a clear message to anyone in need.

"That there are resources and that there are people that care, and that have stepped up to the plate to be able to wrap their arms around you and your family," said Kindra Montgomery-Block, Associate Director of Community and Economic Development at the Sierra Health Foundation.

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