Oakland's Fruitvale District a COVID-19 hot spot as California sees decline in positivity rate

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ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Battling COVID-19 Oakland's Fruitvale District, a Bay Area hot spot
While California overall continues to see declines in positive rates from COVID-19 testing, some Bay Area communities are lagging behind, like Oakland's Fruitvale District.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- While California overall continues to see declines in positive rates from COVID-19 testing, some Bay Area communities are lagging behind, still dealing with case numbers that are far too high. That includes Oakland's Fruitvale district, where 10 percent of those tested are still coming up positive.

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In a recent study, the Unity Council found that the majority of confirmed cases in Oakland are in the 94601 zip code.

"You can't control and epidemic if you don't know who has it," said Erik Solorio, a nurse and coordinator on the front lines at a La Clinica testing site in the Fruitvale neighborhood. "Especially since the wildfires, it has been more difficult to get people through the door, per say to come and get tested. We're slowly seeing it come back up."

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"We're getting close to 10 percent of the people are testing positive," said Noah Gallo, a coordinator with the Native American Health Center at 31st Avenue and International Boulevard.

Gallo works with a population that includes many construction and service workers, people who cannot do their jobs from home.

"We're seeing a lot of families," Gallo said. "We're seeing a lot of elders that are coming from the senior homes and we're seeing a lot of the new immigrant families, with no documentation."

For many here, there is fear, not just of the virus, but fear that showing up for a test could pull them too far out of the shadows.

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"That's one of the biggest reservations, because if I go get tested, they need my information, my documentation," explained Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo. "Secondly, if I test positive, what do I do? Where do I go? Who takes care of me?"

Councilman Noel Gallo is among those spreading the word, that people will not be asked for immigration status when they go for a test or care.

He and others are also forming partnerships with UCSF and others to provide acommodations for those who need to isolate away from homes that are often crowded and multi-generational.

Beyond that, volunteers are offering food, free masks, sanitizer, whatever residents need to make it through these tough times.

Anecdotally, people on the ground say things seem to be improving in the Fruitvale, that people are more comfortable getting tested and seeking services.

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Kareem Williams became homeless, right when the pandemic started.

"It is hard for all of us out here," said Williams. "This is a great neighborhood, Fruitvale all the way to West Oakland and East Oakland, but with unity, we can kill the virus."

Upcoming events in the Fruitvale District:

Oaktown vs. the Virus

Saturday, Sept. 5

Fresh Food Box & Meals Giveaway, COVID-19 Safety Kits Giveaway, Voter Registration & Census 2020 Assistance

1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Fruitvale BART Parking Lot at 1001 Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland.

Free COVID-19 Testing

Sept 12-13, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No symptoms required, all ages, antibody testing available, will not affect immigration status

La Clinica De La Raza Parking Lot, 35th Avenue and E. 12th Street

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