Demographics in Census Tract 229.01, via the American Community Survey. The Graphics were produced by Census Reporter, a Knight News Challenge-funded project

The Mission District census tract where public officials will begin a widespread COVID-19 testing campaign this week has the highest concentration of Latino residents in the city, according to the American Community Survey

Some 58 percent of the residents are Latino in Census Tract 229.01 — a rectangular expanse that runs from 23rd to Cesar Chavez streets, and from South Van Ness to Harrison. Some 26 percent of the Latino residents are of Mexican origin and 24 percent are of Central American origin. 

The census tract has a demographic profile that concerns public health officials — a high concentration of immigrants who work at restaurants and grocery stores and then return to crowded living situations. 

“We are seeing a huge outbreak in the Latinx population,” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF, said during USCF’s Thursday Grand Rounds.

Latinos comprise 23 percent of the 1,100 COVID-19 cases in San Francisco but represent only 16 percent of the population. 

“Those individuals are not technically homeless, but living in crowded housing, and the same dynamic is at play,” Bibbins-Domingo said Thursday. They are working every day as front-line workers and then returning to crowded housing situations and that means they are “more vulnerable to bad outcomes.” 

The lack of federal assistance for undocumented residents and families with mixed statuses has left many in a position where they’re forced to leave their homes for work, according to advocates. There are approximately 35,000 undocumented immigrants living in San Francisco.

Indeed, Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF, said Saturday that there are a lot of cases in the Mission District and that “a lot of our contact tracing is leading to the Mission District.”

The Mission District still has the highest concentration of Latinos in the city — although the population has diminished from more than 50 percent in 2000 to less 36 percent. The Latino population is concentrated in the southeastern part of the Mission. 

It’s unclear if the city will expand beyond Census Tract 229.01, but others nearby also have high concentrations of Latinos — including Census Tract 229.03, which is 54 percent Latino and runs from 23rd to Cesar Chavez and Bryant to Vermont; Census Tract 228.03, which is 47 percent Latino and runs from 23rd to 21st streets and South Van Ness to Harrison;  and Census Tract 229.02, which is 42 percent Latino and runs from 23rd to Cesar Chavez and Harrison to Bryant. 

In the census tract chosen for testing, 229.01, some 16 percent of the residents and 31 percent of the children live below the poverty line. 

It has 3.3 people per household, compared to 2.4 for San Francisco overall. 

Like the rest of the Mission, residents in Census Tract 229.01 tend to be younger with a median age of 32.7, compared to 38.2 for the city. 

The per capita income is $40,240, compared to $64,157 for the city, and household income is $91,464 compared to $104,552 for the city. 

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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