AUSTIN, Texas — According to data from CommUnityCare health centers, one in five COVID-19 tests given at its seven drive-thru testing sites in Travis County came back positive over a two-week span from April 26 to May 9.
CommUnityCare said its analysis shows 412 of the 1,679 Latinos tested at the sites since mid-March have tested positive. That's a positive testing rate of 24.55%, compared to a lower rate for non-Latinos at 7.32%, while 11.32% of people who did not report their ethnicity also came back positive.
Overall, CommUnityCare’s testing sites have administered 3,593 tests, a portion of which are still pending results. The overall positivity rate for returned tests is 16.89%.
“These are worrisome trends,” CommUnityCare CEO Jaeson Fournier said. “The reason for higher positivity rates among Latinos we’ve tested could be both cultural and socio-economic – families living together in multi-generational households and people paid hourly who are unable to work from home. CommUnityCare is committed to making testing accessible to everyone, especially communities that are clearly disproportionately affected by COVID-19."
CommUnityCare operates seven public drive-up testing sites throughout Travis County, and the organization said regardless of whether they are a CommUnityCare patient, if a person meets certain criteria, they are tested.
"Part of the onus on us is to advance our testing and increase the number of tests we can offer," said Dr. Alan Schalscha, the Chief Medical Officer for CommUnityCare. "In this case, we've got multi generational folks living under one roof and so individuals have more trouble social distancing."
Schalscha added that where people work could play a role, including construction sites.
"The Latinos that we are testing, many of them are under resourced; some of them are involved in construction," Schalscha said. "I think education is the No. 1 methodology that we should be utilizing to combat this virus."
KVUE has reported that construction sites are potential COVID-19 hotspots in Central Texas.
"The construction industry, we have our safety protocols, and we're having our difficulties as well, trying to get the word out," said Frank Fuentes, the chairman for the United States Hispanic Contractors Association. "We're educating people in terms of the safety protocols for while at work, but we're not educating people on what to do when they get home."
Fuentes also said more needed to be done to teach people who cannot work from home about staying healthy, something Schalscha agrees with.
"But for some of the communities that don't tend to use outfacing media, you know it's really difficult to get the information to their environments, so I think any methodology that we can utilize to share that information is critical," Schalscha said.
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