Black and latino advocacy groups call for more trained contact tracers

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – To contain the spread of COVID-19, San Diego County has hired hundreds of contact tracers. Their job is to identify anyone who may have been in close contact with a person who has Cornavirus.

On Thursday, a coalition of black and Latino advocacy groups asked for the hiring of more tracers to reach out to communities of color.

Latinos make up 35 percent of the county’s population, but they are more than 60 percent of the infections and 45 percent of the deaths.

At a news conference called by civil rights and community activists, the groups called for the county to do better at hiring contact tracers who can communicate and relate to the Latino community.

Contact investigations involve asking about a person’s activities, and about a person’s household members and associates.

In some communities, former state assembly member Lori Saldaña said those kinds of questions can provoke fear and distrust.

“When you are asking people for details about their private lives- who have they been in contact with, where are they going to work, where have they been going to socialize, you need trust. And right now, the Latino community is under attack on immigration issues. We have leadership at the national level that is making their lives more challenging and making it more difficult for them to feel comfortable,” Saldaña said.

According to the Latino and black community advocates, the county has hired 565 contact tracers, in data released by the county to the San Diego Union Tribune and the People’s Alliance for Justice, non-Hispanic white tracers are 47 percent of the hires. Latinos are 25 percent of the total, although Latinos make up more than 60 percent of the county’s infections. Black contact tracers are 10 percent of the workforce. Asians make up 14 percent and Native Americans and Pacific Islanders total 1 percent.

The advocacy groups are demanding that the county bring in tracers who have the cultural training, and language skills to win the trust of the county’s Latino communities.

On Thursday, the county issued a statement, saying it will “Refocus on matching the ethnicity of contact tracers with those testing positive.”

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News