SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, the latest numbers show it is Latinos who continue to be disproportionately infected by the virus.

Statewide, Latinos are 39 percent of the population but now make up 56 percent of the COVID-19 cases, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Allison Wong, a UCSF medical student and contact tracer who is focusing on the Spanish-speaking patients in San Francisco, said it does not appear parties or protests are major factors. Instead, she said, the bulk of the infections appear to stem from the fact that more people are working and living in environments where it’s difficult to get enough social distance.

“As we’re opening up, a lot more people are going back to work and so we’re seeing a lot more (virus) spread through employment,” Wong said. “This is something I can really speak to that I’ve seen a lot of is houses of people who are working but have many, many people living in a single one-bedroom, one-bath or two-bedroom, one-bath for financial reasons.”

For years, gentrification has been pushing out the Latino population in San Francisco’s Mission District. But, in the last few months, it is COVID-19 that has been attacking the neighborhood, said Mission District activist Roberto Hernandez.

“Latinos never had the luxury to shelter at home,” Hernandez said. “Grocery stores — who’s the cashier? Who’s stocking the shelves? Who’s in the back rooms? Who are the janitors? It’s Latinos.”

Hernandez runs a volunteer operation called the Mission Food Hub, a new food bank that is helping feed thousands left hungry from the economic crisis. Hernandez said many of his neighbors are having to leave home every day, overexposing themselves to the virus, including one family of 13 who have been living together in one apartment out of economic necessity.

“Out of the 13, seven of them were tested positive but they couldn’t even quarantine because they lived in a two-bedroom house. It’s difficult times,” Hernandez said.

The Mission Food Hub is asking the community for help with donations, which can be provided here at GiveButter.com/6HtzZM

Wong said she is hoping to recruit more Spanish-speaking contact tracers to continue to find out why an increasing number of Latinos are getting infected.

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