Sanando Juntos: Fruitvale COVID-19 Testing Campaign: Nearly 1100 people were tested; 39 tested positive for COVID-19

OAKLAND, CA – Oct. 14, 2020 –  Oakland community leaders, UCSF, and Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the full results of the two-day Sanando Juntos COVID-10 Fruitvale testing event in September. The presentation included a detailed discussion of the data, breakdown of demographic and socioeconomic risk factors in the Fruitvale community, and opportunities for policy change. The data gathered revealed some alarming, but sadly, not surprising results.

The live press conference was held on Friday, October 16 at 9:00 a.m. at La Clínica parking lot, 35th Ave. and E. 12th St. Click here to watch press conference.

A limited preview of top-line study results follows:

During the two-day event in late September, a total of 1,099 individuals received nose swab tests – 955 adults and 144 children. In addition, another 859 antibody (blood) tests were given – 803 to adults and 56 to children. 

The nose swab tests revealed that 39 individuals (29 adults and 10 children) tested positive for COVID-19 infection on PCR-based tests. Further, 78 adults tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody as did six children, indicating past COVID-19 infection.

Results of the study found that PCR+ prevalence was 3.6% overall among participants. Prevalence in non-Latinx individuals was 0.5% but that number increased to 5.2% among Latinx adults and children and 8.1% among adults who identified as Mayan Latinx. These numbers are much higher than Oakland overall.

The study found antibody-positive prevalence was 9.8% overall11.9% among Latinx adults and children, and an alarming 26.8% among Mayan Latinx adults.

The testing was done in collaboration with the UCSF COVID Community Public Health Initiative, La Clínica, The Unity Council, and other community organizations based in the Fruitvale District.

Even as the infection rate continues to decline in the area, the testing also revealed the overall needs of the Fruitvale community continue to increase.

As of October 9, the 94601 zip code, which includes Fruitvale, continued to have the highest number of positive cases in all of Alameda County.

The event’s goal was to gather data to help reduce the spread of infections among the Latino community, leading to more resources and help for the area’s residents. Organizers also gathered data to determine the overall impact the pandemic has had on the area’s residents. The data was broken down by those who identified as Latino and other among the 1,099 who received the nose swab test.

Among the data findings:

  • More than 25 percent of Latinos saw a reduction in income.
  • 15 percent of Latinos lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
  • 42 percent of Latinos said they faced food insecurity.

According to organizers, the findings revealed the need for more testing and financial relief, housing supports, and food security resources. There also needs to be better public health outreach to these communities – especially the Mam (Mayan) speaking community. An astounding 61 percent of Mam speakers said they are food insecure.

“The COVID PCR and antibody data confirm that Latinos in the East Bay are disproportionately infected with COVID-19.  Our data further identifies the Mam speaking, Mayan population as particularly high risk within the Latino community.  More testing and targeted public health messaging are needed, as are efforts to make essential work safer,” said Alicia Fernández, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCSF Latinx Center of Excellence.

“The data collected by the study confirms the reality that we see in the Fruitvale community. The numbers confirm that the needs continue to go up, and low-income Latinx folks, especially mam speakers, are more vulnerable to the pandemic’s effects than any other communities in Alameda County. We need the county, city, and our philanthropic partners to step up and support our community to stay afloat. No one should have to worry about where they are going to sleep or get their next meal in the most prosperous region of the United States,” said Chris Iglesias, CEO, The Unity Council.

“Since early March, La Clínica began testing its own patients. Our early numbers demonstrated a very high prevalence rate that was quite alarming, disproportionately affecting the Latino Community. This testing event confirmed all the major trends we had witnessed within our own patients: the infection of entire families, including children, the food insecurity families experienced once testing positive, the high number of essential workers affected who had no access to paid leaves, and certainly, the need for more testing. Armed with this new data, we have a better sense of how we must now move forward,” said Jane García, CEO, La Clínica de La Raza.

 “The results of the Sanando Juntos: Fruitvale Testing Project demonstrates the critical need and responsibility of the City, County, State and Federal government to support our community’s most vulnerable residents, since most are hard working families and individuals who are usually the public and private sectors’ frontline and essential workers,” said Noel Gallo, Oakland City Councilmember District 5.

“It is not new that we are the underserved and one of the most vulnerable groups in the area, and now with COVID-19 we are facing an even greater crisis especially with access to health services, housing, food and financial support. That is why we are here today, we are here to ask for more testing and assistance with essential needs,” said Rosendo Aguilar, Fruitvale community member and mam speaker.



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Media Contacts:

  • Victoria Sanchez De Alba, De Alba Communications (for The Unity Council) (650) 270-7810 /
  • Itzel Diaz-Romo, The Unity Council, (510) 302-7646 /

The mini-documentary series commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Dia de los Muertos Festival, the largest Latinx cultural event in the East Bay.

The Unity Council is partnering with Oakland artists to create a mini-documentary series showcasing stories of resilience and ingenuity of artists and change-makers living in the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland, California

The five videos conceptualized by artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez, in collaboration with filmmakers Jeff Arthur and KimberLee Webber of Rewire Creative, aim to amplify untold stories about one of the most diverse and fascinating communities in Oakland.

The Fruitvale neighborhood is a predominantly Latinx immigrant neighborhood that has weathered a number of hardships and tragedies. It’s the place where Oscar Grant was murdered in 2008 and where the deadly Ghost Ship fire killed 36 people in 2016. Most recently, the COVID-19 global pandemic has harshly impacted the Fruitvale, making it the community with the highest infection rates in Alameda County.

Yet, the Fruitvale is also a place of innovation, collaboration, and creative problem-solving.

This series highlights artists, culture makers, and social change agents who are thriving despite incredible odds and who are transforming their community. These short films show the neighborhood’s cultural vibrancy, imaginative problem-solving, and, ultimately, its power through the stories of five Latinx and Black pillars in the Fruitvale.

The mini-documentary series—named The Real Fruitvale—features Fruitvale born and raised Favianna Rodriguez, world-renown artist who uses her art to promote social change; small business owner andfounder of Red Bay Coffee Keba Konte; Fruitvale born and raised graffiti artist Amend; Health advocate and CEO of La Clínica de la Raza Jane Garcia; and Chicano Movement activist and artists Annette Oropeza.

The Real Fruitvale Trailer – Español

El Unity Council se está asociando con artistas de Oakland para crear una serie de mini documentales que muestren historias de resiliencia e ingenio de artis…

“We are thrilled to partner with such talented local artists on The Real Fruitvale mini-series. The tragedies surrounding the Fruitvale neighborhood often outshine the beauty happening within our streets. The series takes back the narrative of the Fruitvale to showcase the neighborhood as an arts, culture, and activism hub.” – Chris Iglesias, Chief Executive Officer of The Unity Council. 

“I grew up in the Fruitvale and I’m thrilled to be uplifting amazing stories about the groundbreaking work that artists and change makers are doing in our community. We are innovating solutions during one of the most challenging times in our country’s history and we can inspire the rest of Oakland with our big ideas.” – Favianna Rodriguez, co-Executive Producer.

“As Bay Area filmmakers, it felt important to continue our rich legacy of Black and Brown unity by highlighting the cultural vibrancy of the Fruitvale – both past and present. The Fruitvale is an integral community in Oakland that has deeply inspired both art and activism across the world.” – Jeff Arthur and KimberLee Webber of Respire Creative.

All five videos will be released on the official Dia de los Muertos Festival website and social media,and Favianna Rodriguez’s IGTVbetween October 15th and November 2nd



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COVID-19 MAM – How To Get Food

Como parte de la campaña de promoción de “Gasta. Quédate. Ama. Oakland.” Visit Oakland también están lanzando la Semana de Restaurantes de Oakland: Edición de Verano del 1 al 13 de septiembre para ayudar a promover restaurantes con comidas al aire libre, comida para llevar y entrega a domicilio.

A diferencia de la Semana de Restaurantes de enero, la Semana de Restaurantes de septiembre no requiere un menú de precio fijo de los restaurantes participantes. En cambio, estamos alentando a los restaurantes a agregar algún tipo de valor agregado a los pedidos realizados entre el 1 y el 13 de septiembre. Si un restaurante no puede aportar valor añadido, seguiremos promocionando todos los restaurantes locales que tengan al menos uno de los siguientes:

  • Comedor al aire libre
  • Menú para llevar
  • Entrega a domicilio

¿Cómo participo? Haga clic aquí para obtener instrucciones sobre cómo los restaurantes pueden actualizar sus listados. El equipo de asociaciones de Visit Oakland, Jean Paul Zapata y Angelica Perez, puede ayudar a las empresas con sus anuncios. Envíe un correo electrónico a

Cómo “Gasta. Quédate. Ama. Oakland”. Puede Ayudar a Tu Negocio

A partir de agosto, Visit Oakland organizará una campaña de marketing digital y redes sociales, que anima a los lugareños a gastar su tiempo y dinero en Oakland.

Visit Oakland está creando una nueva página de destino que enlazará con todos nuestros directorios comerciales, desde restaurantes y tiendas minoristas hasta actividades al aire libre y eventos, que están cambiando durante el COVID-19.

La campaña también se centrará en los esfuerzos de las redes sociales y las relaciones públicas en apoyo de los próximos eventos como:

  • Black Restaurant Week: del 21 al 30 de agosto
  • Oakland Cocktail Week: del 10 de septiembre al 11 de octubre
  • Orgullo en el lugar de Oakland: del 6 al 13 de septiembre
  • Fiestas del Día de los Muertos – finales de octubre (en colaboración con The Unity Council y Fruitvale BID)
  • ¡y muchos más!

Si tiene un evento próximo o una cena especial al aire libre que le gustaría promocionar a través de esta campaña inicie sesión en el portal de Visit Oakland para actualizar su lista.

Si necesita más ayuda, envíe un correo electrónico a  y un miembro del equipo de Visit Oakland se comunicará con usted.

As part of Visit Oakland’s “Spend. Stay. Love. Oakland.” campaign, they are also launching Oakland Restaurant Week: Late Summer Edition from Sept.1 to Sept.13 to help promote restaurants with outdoor dining, takeout and delivery. 

Different to January’s Restaurant Week, this September’s Restaurant Week does not require a Prix Fixe Menu from participating restaurants. Instead, we are encouraging restaurants to do some sort of value add to orders placed from Sept.1 to Sept.13. If a restaurant can’t do a value-add, we will still promote all local restaurants that have at least one of the following:

  • Outdoor dining
  • Takeout menu
  • Delivery

NEXT STEPS: Click here for the instructions for how restaurants can update their listings. The Visit Oakland Partnerships Team – Jean Paul Zapata and Angelica Perez – can help businesses with their listings. Please email

How “Spend. Stay. Love. Oakland.” Can Help Your Business

From August, Visit Oakland will be hosting a “Spend. Stay. Love. Oakland” digital marketing and social media campaign, encouraging locals to spend their time and money in The Town.

Visit Oakland is creating a new landing page that will link to all of our business directories – from restaurants and retail to outdoors and events – that are pivoting during COVID-19.

The campaign will also focus Social Media and Public Relations efforts in support of upcoming events like:

  • Black Restaurant Week – Aug.21-Aug.30
  • Oakland Cocktail Week – Sept.10-Oct.11
  • Oakland Pride-in-Place – Sept.6-Sept.13
  • Dia de los Muertos Festivities – end of October (in collaboration with The Unity Council and the Fruitvale BID)
  • and many more!

If you have an upcoming event or outdoor dining special that you would like promoted through the “Spend. Stay. Love. Oakland.” campaign, please log into the Visit Oakland Partner Portal to update your listing.

If you need further assistance, email and a Visit Oakland team member will be in touch.

The COVID-19 virus has deeply impacted Head Start and Early Head Start programs, enrolled children and families, and their communities. Throughout the pandemic, our team continued and continues to adapt and provide a range of services to better support all the children and families enrolled in our programs across Oakland and the Monument Corridor in Concord. To continue to serve the needs of our children and families, The Unity Council will reopen all of its sites starting on Monday, August 17th, 2020.

Our team is looking forward to the next few weeks and all the activities associated with opening up a new school year.  There will be changes – but in our planning this summer, we have worked endlessly to ensure we provide a safe, dynamic, and thoughtful learning environment for all infants and children served by our programs.

Our goal is to ensure all safety measures work, while we continue to create that ultimate wonder and experience for all the children that are in our charge. All of our Head Start and Early Head start sites will adapt every class to meet the safety guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Alameda County and Contra Costa Health Departments, and the Office of Head Start.

We will continue to have a model of services of our Head Start/ Early Head Start and Child Development Services for center base experiences, home base, and adding our distance-learning efforts. With a slow and thoughtful ramp-up, we will open our sites with a maximum of up to12 Preschool children per classroom, with two teachers.  The remaining children will receive a comprehensive distance learning experience.  Our infant and toddler classes will continue to maintain the same teacher/child ratio’s 1:3 for Infants and 1:4 for Toddlers.

In addition, safety measures and protocols such as visual reminders throughout each of our buildings to sanitize and wash our hands, keeping 6’ apart, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), etc., our efforts are to support a safe and welcoming environment. Our leadership team recognizes that our state of mind and wellbeing is critical to our daily way of life, which is why our program will be offering additional mental health support to all children, families, and staff. We are working that much more diligently to encourage open communication and quickly and directly address employee concerns.

Together we will achieve an outcome of the highest degree for the children and families we serve and a professional environment to support our educators.

Oakland resident Sofia and her husband lost their jobs in the beginning of the year due to the stay-at-home order, their savings were quickly depleting as they struggled to cover their housing and other basic living expenses. 

“We quickly had no money for food or rent. Our two children were depending on us,” said Sofia.  “Despite the eviction moratorium, I had pressure from the landlord to pay the rent and I was constantly stressed on how we were going to come up with the money.”

In June, Sofia was behind three months of rent and with each passing day, she continued to lose hope. If she wasn’t online looking for direct relief, she prayed to have the strength to emotionally get through this financial nightmare for the sake of her children, ages 12 and 14.  

Through the help of her church, Sofia came across information about The Unity Council’s cash assistance program offered to individuals financially impacted by Covid-19. Once she learned about TUC, she immediately applied online and within a few days, Sofia was contacted by staff and was assured she would receive financial relief. 

Shortly after, Sofia and her husband tested positive for Covid-19. 

The couple went into quarantine for two weeks while their children temporarily stayed with family. She feared for the health of her husband who is diabetic and considered high-risk. Sofia admits at one point, their symptoms took a turn for the worst and she thought the virus would end their lives.  

Within three weeks from submitting her request for assistance, Sofia received notification from our staff confirming through our Partnership with Keep Oakland Housed and Bay Area Community Services, she received a mini-grant that would cover the four months of rent through the end of July and the funds would go directly to her landlord. As an active member of Keep Oakland housed, TUC was able to connect her to additional programs including legal representation, emergency financial assistance, and supportive services. 

 “This has been a big relief and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Sofia. “Everyone at The Unity Council are angels.” Sofia and her husband recovered from Covid-19, and are feeling grateful to have her children back home once again. They are still lethargic and experiencing shortness of breath, she is in better spirits. 

“My family is healthy once again and my stress, my fears of being kicked out of our home are now gone,” said Sofia. “My family can eat rice and beans everyday until I find a job, but I am happy to know that because of The Unity Council, we still have a roof over our heads.” 

Beyond being amazed with the services received from TUC, Sofia plans to reach out in hopes of seeking a new job through The Unity Council’s Fruitvale Neighborhood Career and Resource Center.  

Big thanks to Keep Oakland Housed and Bay Area Community Services for our partnership to prevent displacement and homelessness for Oakland residents. 

The client featured in this story were given a pseudonym to protect their privacy. 

We have submitted a Unique Organizational letter in opposition to DHS’ Asylum system proposal urging them to withdraw the rule in its entirety (read The Unity Council’s letter).

“At The Unity Council, every day we get to serve people who have left behind everything to start their lives over in our community. As community leaders dedicated to promote social equity and enhance the lives of thousands of families every day, we believe that a policy amendment where the target is to punish vulnerable immigrant families, children, women, and individuals fleeing their countries to look for help to save their lives is immoral and goes against the American values of fairness, justice, and equality.”.

On June 15, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a proposed rule  which bars anyone who approaches our southern border from receiving asylum, with few exceptions. The sweeping measure slams our doors to individuals, families, and unaccompanied children who are seeking safety, including survivors of gender-based violence.

This proposed rule It is a death sentence for thousands of asylum seekers, and may endanger the safety of the many Unity Council’s clients and community members who have pending asylum cases.

What is this proposal about?

The proposed rule redefines what it means to be “persecuted” and effectively eliminates “gender-based asylum” altogether by expressly excluding from asylum eligibility those who suffer persecution on account of gender, such as women and LGBTQ-identified individuals who have experienced rape, domestic violence, femicide, human trafficking, female genital cutting or a forced heterosexual marriage. It narrows eligibility criteria to deny protection to feminist activists and others who fight for equal rights in matters of education, employment, and other spheres, even when those activities make them targets for brutal retaliatory violence and oppression. It makes the protections of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) inaccessible to some immigrants who are facing expedited deportation. And it removes protections against disclosure of information, potentially allowing abusiers to obtain survivors’ information.

What are the new bars to asylum?

The proposed regulation instructs immigration judges and Asylum Officers to deny asylum to individuals who have:

  • Passed through at least two countries prior to arriving in the United States or stayed in another country for at least 14 days prior to arriving in the United States (affecting people from Central America the most who have passed another country on their journey to come to the U.S. or because they crossed the border without going through an official entry point).
  • Ever failed to pay taxes, paid taxes late, or  failed to report any income to the IRS.
  • Been unlawfully present in the United States for at least one year.

Several other bars to asylum are included in the regulation. Immigration judges are instructed to use a person’s unlawful entry into the United States as a “significant adverse factor” when deciding whether to grant asylum.

What is next?

A District Court judge in San Francisco issued an order forcing the asylum ban to a temporary halt nationwide. While we are relieved at the temporary block, the administration has appealed the order, and there will be another hearing in the coming weeks to consider the full merits of the asylum ban.

As we await the hearings, we must act to ensure that asylum protections are not stripped away from those leaving everything behind in search of safety.

We have used our voice to tell the U.S. government that we oppose the new asylum ban.

Comment Tracking Number: 1k4-9htc-nc6q

With the nation at a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, job seekers like Antonio are at a crossroads as businesses have closed and ceased hiring at the moment.  Since January, Oakland resident Antonio has been looking high and low for new career opportunities in various sectors with no luck. But he knew one way or another, not even a government shutdown would get to his spirits – he was on a quest to bigger and better things in his life.

“I took a lot of losses in life,” said 22-year-old Antonio. “I refuse to go back to where I was in life. I plan for a life of success and I needed the help to get there.”

Antonio joined The Unity Council’s STEP (Success, Training, Education, Planning) program in January 2020 after learning the program provides soft skills training and an internship with local businesses, all paid for by the organization. He wanted to look for a long-term job in Oakland that paid well and gave him the opportunity to grow.

“I just want something different, something real,” said Antonio. “I just want to be successful. “

Through the STEP training, available for youth and young adults ages 16 – 24 years old with little to no job experience, Antonio learned the importance of punctuality, accountability, and working in a collaborative environment. During his internship phase, Antonio was placed at Tech Exchange, an Oakland nonprofit focused on closing the digital divide for residents.  Through this internship, he learned more about hardware and became skilled at troubleshooting and refurbishing computers. Then COVID-19 forced the shutdown of businesses and his hopes to of finding a job was on the line – or so he thought.

The STEP team quickly pivoted their program to provide emergency assistance remotely; Career and Financial Coaches began quickly enrolling clients in state benefits such as Unemployment Services and CAL-Fresh. Additional services included wellness check-ins and workshops, referring clients to community resources, online professional development courses, and providing a list of businesses hiring at the moment.

Youth Career and Financial Coach Jessica Perez said clients like Antonio experience multiple barriers before COVID-19 such as age, soft skills, and experience. “Now they are facing different barriers because the places they were interested to apply were suddenly closed,” said Perez. “Our team began tackling those barriers and doing the best we can to help our clients given the unexpected circumstances.”

Tech Exchange remained open as they continued to provide tech support to the community and it was Antonio’s leadership skills and tenacity that sparked the interests of two employers and landed him two job offers, Tech Exchange and Peralta Service Corporation. Seeing the unbelievable timing of these two job opportunities, he decided to pursue both because of his commitment to gain financial security.

As Antonio’s coach, Perez was proud seeing his drive to make a better life for himself and his family.

“Antonio’s a fighter – things haven’t come easy for him,” said Perez. “Money has been tight and that has caused stress on him and his family. It’s these success stories during these difficult times that keep me motivated and encouraged. This is what the work I do is all about.”   

Chris Iglesias, Chief Executive Officer at The Unity Council says through the shelter-in-place, career readiness programs like STEP are important now more than ever in communities like East Oakland.

“The Unity Council is here for them, now and post-COVID, to get workers back into the economy safely, and to get more people to climb the first rung of a career ladder in a high-growth industry.”

Antonio is thankful for the support he received from STEP because he had the motivation; he just needed the roadmap to get there.

“The STEP program really did help me get back on my feet,” said Antonio. “This is just the beginning.”

On Thursday, The Unity Council and BRIDGE Housing were awarded $30M for the Fruitvale Transit Village Phase IIB from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grant program. This was a competitive grant from the State of California Strategic Growth Council, awarded to projects that help create holistic communities with affordable housing and transportation options near jobs and other vital destinations.

$20M goes into developing 181 affordable apartments at Fruitvale Village “Phase IIB,” transforming a surface parking lot into sustainable, clean and modern housing for individuals and families who earn between 20% and 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), including 46 units of permanent supportive housing. This demonstrates exciting momentum for the long-awaited continuation of the Fruitvale Transit Village, which celebrated its grand opening more than 15 years ago.

But that’s only part of the story.

$10M of this award will be invested in transportation and neighborhood infrastructure improvements that will benefit all residents, commuters, and visitors to Fruitvale. This is tax-payer dollars put to work for the benefit of the community at large and provides a compelling case for increasing investments in community-supported housing developments. Funding from this award will pay for four new BART cars, which help to alleviate crowding in the train during commute hours will add more frequent cars through the Fruitvale BART station. This funding will also go to street improvements at four AC Transit BRT stops, including bus shelters and ADA compliant curb ramps, to increase accessibility and safety for all. Cyclists win with a new protected cycle track being developed below the BART tracks. And pedestrians will benefit from the safety, visibility, and mobility improvements along International Blvd and Fruitvale Ave, such as improved pedestrian lighting, signage, and landscaped buffers.

Altogether, these improvements and investments in Fruitvale help create safe, attractive, and vibrant public spaces for the thousands of children, families, teens, and elders that call Fruitvale home.