Latinx community among those disproportionately affected by COVID-19

There are specific reasons why researchers believe that’s the case.
Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:50 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and there are specific reasons why researchers believe that’s the case.

“Even if you speak English like myself, it is very difficult to understand or to be in the middle of sickness trying to find resources,” Karina Barillas, the executive director of La Casita Center, explained to WAVE 3 News.

La Casita is a nonprofit organization in Louisville that helps families in the Latinx community. Latinx is a gender-neutral term to describe those of Latin American descent.

As of late, the organization has been working to educate people about COVID-19. According to the CDC, people in the Latinx community make up 31.3% of virus cases.

“We have started campaigns where we go to neighborhoods and provide free testing anyone that comes,” Barillas said. ”If all of us are healthy, then all of us are better.”

They’ve also been doing outreach and education virtually, Barillas said, and providing basic needs to people with things like PPE, medications, and sanitation supplies.

“When you see the disparities in numbers, you can’t argue with data,” Dr. Laura Escobar-Ratliff from the University of Kentucky College of Social work, said. “So then people begin to ask questions.”

There are a few reasons why numbers are high.

“Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, overweight, obesity, those are comorbidities,” Marcelo Venegas, an APRN with UofL Health, said.

There are other factors too. According to the CDC, things like healthcare access and utilization, education, language barriers, income, and occupation being a big factor. Barillas says many in the Latinx community don’t have the ability to work from home.

“Yardwork, construction work, horses, restaurants,” Barillas said.

Many also work in warehouses and assembly lines.

”What they tell me is that some of the time they aren’t really protected,” Venegas said.

Another factor is housing. In some Latin American cultures, it is common for family members of many generations to live in one house.

"You have one person who gets sick you have an entire household that gets sick," Escobar-Ratliff said. "If the whole house is impacted how do they get the resources they need?"

Escobar-Ratliff says what can help is the recognition and validation of barriers.

“Help us bring those barriers down,” Escobar-Ratliff said.

To learn more about COVID-19 and how it’s impacting the Latinx community click here.

For more information on how you can help La Casita Center click here.

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