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A new investigation by USA Today has examined how systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic are linked. The outlet did research into Asian Americans in the Bay Area and how high death rates were impacting the community.

Asian Americans spoke about the fear of getting tested because of expenses and fear of discrimination. Mandy Rong told USA Today, “If you test positive, everyone would be scared of you. Everyone would think you are the devil.” Rong’s daughter got sick with a fever and coronavirus symptoms but Rong was too nervous to get her tested.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health shared that 38% of 123 coronavirus deaths are Asian Americans, the highest of any ethnicity. Positivity rates among Asian Americans in San Francisco are 12%, but experts worry it’s much higher in reality.

Because of a lack of federal data, nationwide information on Asian Americans and the coronavirus is scarce. San Francisco is one of the few places tracking the data. The Asian American fatality rate by case is triple that all other groups in San Francisco, at 3 deaths for every 100 cases.

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

The “model minority” myth often leaves out large swaths of the Asian American community. In San Francisco, many Asian Americans live in close proximity in smaller apartments, in part due to expensive housing. “With Asian Americans, the average always is pulled way up by those doing very well, which means you miss the groups who clearly are not,” said Margaret Simms, a nonresident fellow with The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

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