LOS ANGELES - This Monday was the first day of COVID-19 testing at the South Gate testing center and already a long line of cars.
In this working-class, largely Latino neighborhood people waited to get tested. The reasons for the long lines were compelling. There's been a sharp increase in the number of cases in minority communities.
Today California Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly put the trend into stark numbers. Latinos now make up 56% of COVID 19 patients. That's Up 9% from March. And 46% of those who die from the virus are Latino. The Black community is showing a little improvement in its infection rate, but the death rate remains a sobering 8.5%.
The reasons for the disparity between minorities and Caucasians point to people of color working in essential services.
Minorities often lack affordable medical care and tend to use public transportation. But there are many reasons. In simple terms, the working poor are going to work-- and bringing the virus home with them. And that very act of economic survival could imperil their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Especially when they return to households with three generations under one roof, where the potential to spread the virus is acute.
One of the big slams on government has been that Blacks and Hispanics, the very groups that desperately need the test, can't get one.
So this week, LA County moved to change that trend. They opened three new urban locations: South Gate, Montebello and Panorama City.
The first week, seemed to go well. People I talked to via cell phone told me they received personalized kits, administered their own tests ( for safety reasons), and were done in ten minutes. Site reps promised that test results would be back in 24 to 48 hours. (Indeed one woman confirmed to me tonight she had received her test results back in 24 hours.)
If the state of California is to bring down its alarming infection rate, it means getting control of the virus in minority communities.
People's very lives depend on it.