A nurse administers a COVID-19 test at the 24th St. and Mission Plaza transit hub in San Francisco. (Photo by Noah Berger/Courtesy UCSF)

New poll shows 1 in 5 Californians know someone who has died of COVID-19

A new tracking poll conducted by the California Health Care Foundation and market research firm Ipsos revealed that 19 percent of Californians overall, or almost one in five, know someone who died from COVID-19. For Californians of color, that number is even greater.

Among Latinx and Black Californians surveyed, 29 and 28 percent of those said they knew someone who died from COVID-19, compared to the 19 percent of Asian people and 10 percent of white people that did.

“This disease is having a particularly personal and tragic effect on Black and Latinx Californians,” said Kristof Stremikis, director of CHCF’s Market Analysis and Insight team. “It really speaks to us as a state to prioritize and support these communities.”

According to the poll, 69 percent agreed that stronger shelter-in-place rules should be in place to halt the virus’s spread. Of the 69 percent, 35 percent strongly agreed, 34 percent somewhat agreed and only 13 percent strongly disagreed.

Notably, 43 percent of Black, Latinx and Asian Californians “strongly agree” compared to only 24 percent of white Californians.

Stremikis also noted, however, how support for stricter COVID-19 regulations differed depending on how the questions were framed.

“Californians are very open to stricter rules and very serious about the disease. It’s really remarkable to see this level of agreement,” Stremikis said. “What motivates stronger public health measures is if it’s framed to allow businesses and schools to reopen sooner and prevent deaths. Californians seem highly motivated to prevent deaths right now, just because they know someone who’s died from the virus.”

When the question involved preventing deaths, acceptance toward more stringent regulations increased to 75 percent of Black residents, 65 percent of Latinx resident, 64 percent of Asians and 54 percent of white residents.

The overall trend observed by the poll is that people of color with lower incomes and crowded living spaces were willing to try heavy-handed measures to avoid COVID-19 infection.

The Examiner has previously reported that a UCSF study that released preliminary results in May found that among those with confirmed coronavirus cases in the Mission District, 95 percent were Latinx and most could not work from home. Almost 60 percent lived in households with three to five people present, and 29 percent lived in households with over five people.

A more recent UCSF round of testing conducted in August at the 24th Street BART Station found a 9 percent positive rate overall and 11 percent for Latino participants, compared to an overall positivity rate of 2.61 percent for San Francisco.

“Seven months into this pandemic, low-income Latinx essential workers living in close-knit family units continue to be uniquely vulnerable, said Diane Havlir, director of the UCSF Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine, in a UCSF press brief.

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