IRVINE, Calif. – Data shows some communities are being hit harder than others when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases.

In Orange County, hot spots are popping up in areas including Anaheim, where there are more than 7,500 confirmed cases according to data published on the Orange County Health Care Agency’s website.

What You Need To Know

  • Anaheim has more than 7,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19

  • 500 people participating in workshop, including students and community members

  • It is a four week course

  • Course includes a focus on health equity

Anaheim is the city Maritza Bermudez grew up in. It’s also the place where she has raised her own kids in. Anaheim is her home.

“I saw how hard hit my area was hit, and I wanted to know why,” she said.

Bermudez said wanting answers is the reason she was eager to take part in her now second contact tracing workshop. The nonprofit she works for pays for her time to participate in a workshop hosted by the University of California, Irvine. She said educating herself is personal.

“It really, really hurt me that our hard-working community was the most vulnerable,” she said.

Bermudez learned the ABC’s of what a contact tracer does during her first online contact tracing workshop, but she still had questions about the social and racial equity part of the pandemic.  

That’s why Bermudez said she was excited to know the contact tracing working shop she started participating in last month also focused on social equity.  

According to the university, the four-week series of remote training sessions was created to help meet the growing need for contact tracers who can do the detective-like work of figuring out how COVID-19 is transmitted from one person to another with an eye toward health equity.

Bermudez said she’s learned through the workshop her community in Anaheim is high density and low income.

“Multiple families in one home or an apartment. It’s really hard for them to self-isolate, so then the virus can spread,” she explained.

Bermudez admitted before starting this UCI workshop, she assumed case numbers were high in her area because people were just being careless by not doing things such as wearing masks.

“By taking this workshop, I’ve been able to be more empathetic,” she said.

In addition to a lack of space to isolate, Bermudez said for some community member missing work while quarantining could mean having no money for rent or food. She’s learned there are resources to help people in need.

As a part of her new job with Latino Health Access, Bermudez helps spread the word about those resources. The information, along with tips about washing hands, free testing information, and other educational material is contained in packets, along with a mask, that she hands out at community events such as food giveaways.  

“Even if I didn’t get paid, I would be out here because it’s so important to me that everybody feels the same. That there’s equity,” she said.

Through education, both for herself and her neighbors, Bermudez said she hopes she can help slow the spread of the virus.

The workshop is a partnership with UCI Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency. About 500 people have been participating in the workshop including more than 150 UCI students.

The workshop ends Aug. 21.