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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 5/6/20, AM

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Undocumented Immigrants Impacted / Mission District Testing Results / Some Counties Reopening Restaurants

Undocumented Immigrants Impacted

California is home to around 3 million undocumented immigrants, with the majority employed in industries that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus, but few have access to stimulus funding or healthcare.

Before the coronavirus, Abraham Gonzales had worked the last four years as a dishwasher for a restaurant in San Francisco. But since mid-March, he’s been out of work - and isn’t eligible for federal relief programs. Gonzales says though he pays taxes, and has for the past 9 years in the United States, his immigration status makes him ineligible:

“I just wanted to emphasize the feeling of frustration at being excluded from federal relief, because a lot of immigrants pay taxes with an individual tax payer identification number, but nevertheless we were excluded in this situation.”

 

Gonzales says he has about two months of savings before he may have to begin looking for work again to support his family - his wife and daughter are American citizens, but because they file taxes with him, they are also ineligible for federal benefits. He’s also concerned his status will make it harder to get re-hired. Sasha Feldstein of the California Immigrant Policy Center says workers like Gonzales represent about ten to thirty percent essential workers:

“It’s very clear that people who are undocumented are over-represented in many of the industries that are hardest hit by COVID-19, it includes restaurant workers, home health workers, and other critical industries that are really on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The California Immigrant Policy Center will be holding a rally next week to petition state legislators to enact more policies protecting undocumented workers.

Mission District Testing Results

UCSF has released the initial findings of a landmark coronavirus testing effort in the Mission District. For the last month, hundreds of volunteers staffed pop-up testing sites with the goal of testing everyone in a four-square block area of the Mission. The results? Just over 2 percent tested positive for COVID-19. That is much higher than the city’s overall positive rate. 

Ninety percent of those who tested positive said they’ve been unable to work from home. And the vast majority reported incomes of less than 50 thousand dollars. The results suggest that low-wage workers and those who still have to physically go to work have been hit particularly hard by this virus.

The results also show the outsized impact COVID-19 is having on the city’s Latinx community which makes up 15 percent of the total population but almost 40 percent of the city’s confirmed cases.

More findings from the study will be released later this month. 

Some Counties Reopening Restaurants

Despite Governor Newsom’s wishes, restaurants in Yuba and Sutter counties have okayed opening up dining rooms for sit down meals. But some places will continue to only offer curbside pickup.

The tables by the door at Rico’s Pizza in Yuba City are still stacked on top of each other and the chairs are piled high in a corner. Sara Saylors owns the place. Even though restaurants have lost 80-90 percent of their income and sit-down meals are now allowed, she’s not ready to unstack those chairs:

“I gotta think about my employees too. We have a bathroom and people have to walk by all these tables. People are gonna be sitting here eating. People have to refill their drinks over here and there’s tables right here. Just trying to play it safe.”

Saylors wears a mask. Her employee does not. At Salsa’s Fresh Mexican Food, Krystien Farias is the owner and greeter:

“I’m being safe about it, washing my hands. I got sanitizer here. I have labels all over and I’m having social distancing.”

Every other table has a sign that says “Please do not sit here.” But she doesn’t wear a mask and neither does the kitchen staff. The waitress does. The new county orders say people and employees must wear face coverings if they are unable to be at least six feet away from others at all times.