Higher COVID-19 positivity rates in disadvantaged areas, according to UCSF Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Fresno County sets its sights on the less-restrictive 'orange tier', it must fulfill one of the state's criteria to move forward: more testing in disadvantaged communities.

The COVID-19 Equity Project is dedicated to making testing more accessible in impoverished neighborhoods. Free COVID-19 tests conducted by UCSF Fresno are offered at a central Fresno clinic, mobile events and at the Big Fresno Fair's drive-thru event.

"We just hadn't gotten around to it yet and when we heard there was free testing and we could come to try out the fair food, we decided to come," said Katarina Pineda who was tested for COVID-19 at the fairgrounds.

The testing is not only a convenient stop for families, it's important to help Fresno County move into the less restrictive 'orange tier'.

"This is to show that we are actively testing in the lowest quartile in the health index, equity index," said Kenny Banh, M.D. from UCSF Fresno.

Through the health equity metric, the state takes into consideration how much testing is being done in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

"Within our own testing system, we certainly have a higher rate of positives than what you are seeing in the rest of the county," said Banh.

Of about 1300 tests, UCSF reports a 13.9% positivity rate at its testing sites compared to the 9.3% positivity rate for all of Fresno County.

Dr. Kenny Banh says that this is because there are more essential workers in impoverished communities and extended families have the tendency to rely on one another.

"People who work in the factory, people who work in the field, they cannot work from home," said Banh. "Plus as we go into the lower incomes, we have a lot of non-nuclear families. Grandma, cousins, aunts, all kind of mixed together sharing responsibility and sharing households."

Dr. Banh says most of UCSF Fresno's positivity cases are out of the central Fresno clinic.
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