Latino community hit hard by COVID-19, officials say

Current data indicates that nearly one-fourth of cases in Lane County are in the Latino community, but that statistic could be skewed.

Posted: Apr 16, 2020 7:32 PM
Updated: Apr 16, 2020 7:36 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- While the coronavirus doesn't care if you are black or white, officials with Lane County Public Health say communities of color are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis said the reason behind it is what they call social disparities of health.

Eric Richardson is the executive director of the NAACP in Eugene. He said he is not surprised by the disparity.

"African Americans in the United States are very much a urban population, and so we are in the more denser cities," Richardson said.

Richardson said people of color are more likely to have underlying health conditions compared to white people because of a lack of health care and other important services. Those underlying health conditions can cause the coronavirus to be more lethal.

Davis said out of all of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lane County, 24.4% were from the Latino community, a minority group that makes up 9.3% of the county's population. But he said that statistic could be higher or lower due to missing information from 10 cases.

David Sáez is the executive director for Centro Latino Americano, a nonprofit that provides a number of services to Latino and immigrant families in Lane County. He said that a recent survey found many are worried about getting their basic needs like food and money to pay rent.

"Some of them are working in areas that are essential," Sáez said. "There is a great opportunity for infection and disease to spread."

Sáez said one issue they have been struggling with is getting local information out to people who only speak Spanish. While Lane County has made some accommodations for Spanish speakers, he said more is needed.

"Information they can understand, and that can help them take actions that can help all of us stay healthy," Sáez said.

Davis said they are working to adapt to address the disparities and are working to provide minority groups with the resources and education they need.

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