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Santa Clara County launches door-to-door COVID testing in a majority Latino community

A California county has launched a door-to-door COVID-19 testing program in a majority Latino community that has become a virus hotspot. 

Volunteers in Santa Clara County in Northern California have started handing out self-testing kits in the East San Jose neighborhood on Thursday.  

Officials said many residents in the neighborhood, where 55 per cent of the population is Latino, cannot easily access testing sites. 

Santa Clara County is currently one of the hardest hit areas of the nine counties in the Bay Area, according to its Emergency Operations Center

Santa Clara County has launched a door-to-door COVID-19 testing program in a majority Latino community that has become a virus hotspot

In Santa Clara County, the Latino community makes up 54.5 per cent of all cases though they only make up 25.8 per cent of the county's total population

In Santa Clara County, the Latino community makes up 54.5 per cent of all cases though they only make up 25.8 per cent of the county’s total population

As of Monday morning, 13 per cent of the county’s intensive care unit capacity is available. Of the ICU beds occupied, 30 per cent are COVID patients. 

In the county, the Latino community makes up 54.5 per cent of all cases though they only make up 25.8 per cent of the county’s total population. 

‘We recognize our communities in East San Jose are being hardest hit by the COVID pandemic,’ Dr Analilia Garcia, the county’s racial and health equity director, told SFGate

Garcia said the situation is dire and that the county is ‘doing everything we can to stop this runaway train’.

‘For the last few months, we have been working with community partners to do outreach and engagement. We recognize there’s fear and mistrust about COVID-19 and especially testing and what people can expect if they test positive. 

‘We have been focused on bringing testing into neighborhoods and households as another opportunity to mitigate the barriers to accessing a test,’ Garcia added. 

According to Garcia, the individuals going door-to-door are bilingual and have a history of engagement in the community. 

She told SFGate that they show up to the homes unannounced in protective gear. 

Santa Clara County is reporting 48,015 coronavirus cases with a 7-day rolling average of 1,020

Santa Clara County is reporting 48,015 coronavirus cases with a 7-day rolling average of 1,020

As of Monday morning, 13 per cent of the county's intensive care unit capacity is available. Of the ICU beds occupied, 30 per cent are COVID patients

As of Monday morning, 13 per cent of the county’s intensive care unit capacity is available. Of the ICU beds occupied, 30 per cent are COVID patients

And if people aren’t home, they leave fliers on the doors saying that they will be returning. 

‘We are hoping to administer as many test as we can,’ Garcia said, adding that volunteers were welcomed at the first home they visited on Thursday. 

‘We had a very pleasant encounter with a family of three people who said yes to testing,’ said Garcia. ‘They said, “Yes, wow, great”.’

Meanwhile, the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Los Angeles County, which again broke a record for coronavirus hospitalizations this weekend as San Francisco County reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

Statewide, more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported Sunday, making California’s total 1,551,766.

Millions of Californians in the majority of the state are under stay-at-home orders.

In Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, more than 4,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, according to figures released Sunday afternoon. More than one-fifth of hospitalized patients are in intensive care units.

The county’s new figures break the previous record set only the day before, with 3,850 patients in a hospital, and follows the trend of hospitalizations increasing nearly every day since November 1. 

LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned last week that the county could see the statistic climb to 4,000 within two weeks. It happened in six days.

Statewide, more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported Sunday, making California’s total 1,551,766. A COVID testing site is seen in Santa Clara

Statewide, more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported Sunday, making California’s total 1,551,766. A COVID testing site is seen in Santa Clara 

Due to the surge in cases, millions of Californians in the majority of the state are under stay-at-home orders. Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant on December 4

Due to the surge in cases, millions of Californians in the majority of the state are under stay-at-home orders. Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant on December 4 

In San Francisco County, health officials reported 323 new cases on Saturday, the highest number of new coronavirus infections there yet. San Francisco emerged as a leader in the state’s response to the pandemic early on but has since moved to battling its own cases.

The record-breaking figures in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties come as more than 325,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are on the way to California.

The first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine left Michigan early Sunday for 145 distribution centers nationwide. States will get vaccines based on their adult population and additional shipments are coming this week.

The vaccine is heading to hospitals and other sites across the country that can store it at extremely low temperatures — about 94 degrees below zero. Pfizer is using containers with dry ice and GPS-enabled sensors to ensure each shipment stays colder than the weather in Antarctica.

In California, counties will have specific allotments that will be distributed to hospitals determined by state health officials to have adequate storage capacity, serve a high-risk health care population and have the ability to vaccinate people quickly. 

Priority will be to inoculate health care workers on the front lines of a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people and claimed nearly 298,000 lives in the US alone. 

Gov Gavin Newsom tweeted that a group of medical experts convened by Western states met Saturday to discuss the vaccine and confirm that it is safe for public use.

Medical facilities at military bases in Alameda and San Diego will be among the first sites to receive vaccines, the US Department of Defense announced earlier this month.

The vaccines are coming as the situation grows more dire by the day nationwide and in California, with the holiday season well underway. 

Public health officials are afraid the already surging infection rates and hospitalizations will continue to climb as people ignore precautions to gather for the holidays.

On Saturday, the number of available ICU beds in San Joaquin Valley plummeted to zero for the first time.


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