Hispanics are three times as likely to take a door-to-door COVID test

Hispanic Americans are more likely to get a COVID-19 test from a health worker going door-to-door than they are from a neighborhood test site, a new study finds.

Researchers from Stanford University gathered testing data from three ZIP codes in Santa Clara County in Central California.

They compared demographic data from testing at neighborhood testing sites to door-to-door canvassers who administered people tests.

While Hispanic Americans were less likely to get tested at the bigger public sites, they were 80 to 184 percent more likely to agree to get swabbed door-to-door.

The team believes this data can help health officials deploy strategies to close racial testing gaps.© Provided by Daily Mail Hispanic Americans are up to 184% more likely to get tested through a door-to-door program rather than a neighborhood testing site, a study finds. Pictured: A man in Ontario, California, self administers a Covid test in December, 2020

The Stanford team, who published their findings in JAMA Health Forum on Friday, created a dataset of tests from December 18, 2020 to February 18, 2021 in the 95122, 95116 and 95127 ZIP codes of East San Jose.

These areas are generally poorer contain fewer residents with lower education completion than other central California ZIP codes.

It is also an area were around 40 percent of residents due not speak English ‘very well’ and has a Hispanic population of over 60 percent.

There were two different tactics used by health officials to determine which neighborhoods to go to for door-to-door testing.

One was a algorithm based strategy, where a machine recommended canvass locations based on a variety of variables.

The second was strategies developed by local health care workers, using their personal knowledge of the area to determine which neighborhoods needed to door-to-door testing.

Both strategies had success in different ways.

The machine based strategies found more positive tests, as the algorithm was able to determine which areas had the most undetected cases.chart, histogram© Provided by Daily Mailchart, histogram© Provided by Daily Mail

‘We found that allocating COVID-19 tests using machine learning can increase testing capacity, reduce demographic disparities in testing, and detect clusters of infected individuals,’ researchers wrote.

‘Our results demonstrate one effective, data driven method to improve equity in COVID-19 testing.’

Human developed strategies had higher uptake of the tests, though, as the people familiar with the area were able to determine which areas wanted the testing the most. 

‘On the one hand, uncertainty sampling displayed a higher positivity rate; on the other hand, local knowledge selection showed a higher response rate,’ they continued.

‘Where a network of [health workers] with local knowledge is unavailable, however, existing public health surveillance data can be used to allocate testing resources to neighborhoods with high uncertainty about the positivity rate.’

In total, 87.6 percent of people tested door-to-door were Hispanic. 

Combined, though, both strategies were more successful at getting Hispanic people tested than bigger neighborhood testing sites.

Data from two neighborhood sites were gathered: from the Emmanuel Baptist Church and the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

Just under half of people who tested at the church were Hispanic, and only 30 percent of those at the fairgrounds.

Researchers found that Hispanics were 80 to 184 percent more likely to get tested door-to-door than at either of the neighborhood sites.

The data opens the door to a potential strategy to close demographic gaps in testing.chart, histogram© Provided by Daily Mail© Provided by Daily Mail

Since the pandemic began, many minority communities have had less access to testing.  

This is because of a lack of information, lack of ability to reach testing because of a variety of barriers or sometimes because tests were not available in their communities at all. 

Research hope the strategies they lay out could be put into place in the real world. 

‘We found that door-to-door COVID-19 testing was associated with increased testing capacity and an increased ability to reach particular demographic groups,’ they wrote.

‘We also found an association between community-based strategies and an extension of disease surveillance to reduce demographic gaps, potentially reducing language barriers, distrust of public health authorities, and transaction costs to getting tested.’

Some experts believe that Hispanic Americans are less likely to get tested for COVID-19 due to a distrust for authority many immigrants have. 

‘Fears of being detained and questioned are one of the reasons why they are not wanting to deal with any government entities … People are fearful of being engaged with the government,’ said Jeanette Kowalik, Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner, told Washington Post.

‘There’s a lack of trust.’

Kowalik points to some hardline immigration policies of the Donald Trump administration as the source of some of their fears. 

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