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Asians dying of COVID at alarming rate in SF

Chinatown San Francisco via Flickr Creative Commons by Patrick O’Brien

A report conducted by USA Today confirms what AsAmNews had previously reported-the death rate of Asian Americans in San Francisco from the pandemic is disproportionately high.

Early reports back in May put the death toll among Asian Americans in the city at 52 percent. That was three months into the pandemic. Many felt it was too early to draw any conclusions.

Today, USA Today reports that death rate at 38% out of a total of 123 COVID-19 deaths in San Francisco. That’s still the most of any ethnicity-triple that of Whites.

“There’s this feeling that there’s excess death out there,” Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, said to USA Today. “That high mortality rate among Asian Americans means either there isn’t enough testing or people are waiting far too long to get care.”

Asian Americans in San Francisco come from 20 countries. The data unfortunately doesn’t differentiate Chinese from Japanese, Vietnamese, Indians , Filipinos or any other country.

Community advocates blame a lack of testing, language barriers and living and work conditions for the high death toll.

The positivity rate from COVID-19 for these groups is 12 percent, but many suspect that is underreported.

“This model minority thing, that’s not us,” said Judy Young, executive director of the Southeast Asian Development Center. “There is the language barrier and our community is small. So the city doesn’t think we have any problems when we do.”

Many see a lack of attention to these concerns from both the media and mainstream leaders.

“The attention being paid to the disparities endured during the pandemic by Black and Latinos is important, but our issue hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves,” said California Assemblymember David Chiu(D-SF). 

Some question why there isn’t more outreach by the city. In a health advisory issued by the city in August, Asian Americans were not even mentioned.

“To not include other Asians among ethnic minorities who should get tested is pretty appalling,” said Dr. Amy Tang of North East Medical Services, a health clinic serving mostly the Chinese community.

The Department of Public Health declined an interview request from USA Today.

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