Carnaval 2020
Photo by Kerim Harmanci

The Carnaval team and the Latino Task Force opened a two-day Carnaval celebration today focused on what they felt the Latinx community needs now: testing, wellness advice, and food. There was also music and some dancing to help lighten the mood of a seemingly endless pandemic season.

It was the right festival for the moment.

“We’re celebrating by beginning to recover and to heal from this crisis; we have to stop feeling that we’re never going to get out of this pandemic,” said Roberto Hernandez, who has lead Carnaval for years.

Behind him, a D.J. played a Burna Boy song while visitors arrived to get tested. Out on Harrison Street, volunteers took the temperature of each guest and ushered them in the direction they wanted to go: testing, job booths, the food line or advice on social services.

Clearly, food was the most popular. By 2 p.m., 1,000 boxes and many large watermelons had been distributed.

Some 500 Covid-19 tests will be given today and again tomorrow from noon to 5 p.m. in the parking lot of John O’Connell High School.

While Latinx residents make up 15 percent of the city’s population, they account for 51 percent of the city’s covid cases. The two studies the Latino Task Force and UCSF have done in the Mission – one in April and a second last month at the 24th Street BART Station – have demonstrated that Latinxs have a much higher positivity rate than the general population.

“They (the Department of Health and city officials) see the numbers and the demographics,” said Jon Jacobo, who heads the health committee for the Latino Task Force. “They need to do more testing here.”

Text by Lydia Chávez, Photos by Kerim Harmanci.

Health and census kiosks in John O’Connell High School lot.
Mission Food Hub on 18th and Alabama St.
Testing tents operating in John O’Connell soccer field.
RJ Sloan of Tenderloin Housing Center at work today to spread tenants’ rights information.

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Mission-dwelling Bay Area-based photographer – – and freelance graphic designer. From the East Coast, likes fog and burritos.

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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