Barriers to contact tracing in San Diego County’s Latino community

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A new study finds Latinos in San Diego County may be less likely to participate in COVID-19 contact tracing.

The survey of 67 respondents identified several factors that make tracing among Latinos more difficult. The Chicano Federation, which worked with UC San Diego to produce this new report identified language barriers as one reason that some Latinos would not participate in a contact tracing investigation.

The county uses tracers to identify the the contacts of people who have been infected, so that the contacts can be notified and advised to take a COVID-19 test.

Nancy Maldonado, the executive director of the Chicano Federation said privacy concerns were also a deterrent. A call to a contact from a trusted community group instead of a stranger would be more likely to lead to cooperation with the investigation.

The study respondents also cited the hesitancy of people who may be the primary wage earner. If they test positive and have to isolate and stay home from work, the respondents said that could lead to extreme financial hardship. Maldonado said those families could be directed to a county program that can provide emergency financial relief for families in need.

One difference related to gender was revealed by the study. The respondents noted that the burden of isolation would fall more heavily on women, who also assume unpaid responsibilities in the home to cook, clean and provide child care. If required to isolate, those families would have to adjust to the absence of the female family member.

Maldonado noted that there are structural solutions to that scenario; the county can provide hotel vouchers for people who need to isolate, while separate vouchers for other family members to allow the entire family to remain in proximity.

Despite some of the reservations about tracing and testing, most respondents felt strongly that people would engage in both activities, if reminded about their responsibility to protect the health of their loved ones and their community.

The results of the survey, which was sponsored by the ambulance company, Faulk will be shared with San Diego State and South Bay Community Services, which are conducting the contact tracing investigations, on behalf of the county.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News