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Oakland Leaders Demand More COVID Testing In Fruitvale District

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- City leaders and health officials in Oakland are pleading for federal help to combat high COVID-19 infection rates in one specific area.

Zip code 94601, which includes the Fruitvale District, has the highest Latinx population in Oakland. A recent report showed that, as of October 9th, it also had the highest COVID cases in Alameda County.

"I was scared. I cried. I was like, 'Am I going to die?'" said Ms. Hernandez, who declined to publicly release her first name. She and almost her entire family tested positive for COVID-19 in August.

All of them are essential workers. Ms. Hernandez works for the Oakland Unified School District.

"A lot of the times, people that catch it were scared to tell people. But it's like, no, it's nothing to be ashamed of," said Hernandez.

She believed contact tracing was very important in limiting potential exposure to friends and relatives. She and her family have since recovered.

Researchers said COVID-19 has hit the Latinx community extremely hard. At a press conference with local leaders on Friday, they said the positivity rate at the Fruitvale testing site for a two-day event in late September was 3.5 percent.

Workers also did antibody tests. The antibody results showed 11.9 percent of the Latinx adults and children who live in the area tested positive. And among the Mayan, or Mam-speaking community, 26.8 percent had it.

"We are furious at the failure of the federal government to come to the aid of our communities during this crisis," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

"So we're asking you, we are begging you, to please support us," said Aaron Ortiz, CEO of La Familia.

Officials are asking the federal government for money to not only do more testing, but also to help those who are sick, many of them low-income essential workers.

"People are running out of options, you know? People have to go to work, you know. They've been out of work for six or seven months," said Perla De Los Santos? who was getting tested at the Fruitvale testing site on Friday.

Gustavo Araujo works for Amazon. He took the week off to recover and get tested Friday. He was hoping for a negative result so he can go back to work on Monday.

"I experienced symptoms like the fever, the chills, the nausea," said Araujo.

The free testing site next to the Fruitvale Bart Station opens during the weekdays.

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