Growing data shows Latino communities being hit disproportionately by COVID-19

HARTFORD – COVID-19 has exposed the toll that crisis and systemic health inequities continue to have on Hispanic and Latino communities in Van Buren County.

Recent data from Van Buren County indicates Hispanic/Latino individuals are being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19. Though Hispanics make up only 11 percent of the population in Van Buren County, as of July 14, they account for more than half (56 percent) of all positive COVID-19 cases. In the state of Michigan, the percentage of overall cases identified as Hispanic/Latino ethnicity is 8 percent.

In response to the exposed disparity, Van Buren/Cass District Health Department is employing additional focused strategies to increase prevention awareness, testing availability and accessibility and connect communities of color to other resources that support basic needs like food and housing.

Public health research has long proven that the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play contribute to their health, according to the health department. These conditions, over time, lead to different levels of health risks, needs and outcomes among some people in racial and ethnic minority groups. Factors such as living conditions, work circumstances, underlying health conditions and lower access to care can impact health outcomes and are often exacerbated during public health emergencies.

The following are actions individuals, families, and communities can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19, as recommended by the health department:

Individuals

  • Social Distance. Keep 6 feet away from others wherever possible and respect others’ space.
  • Wear a mask. Wear a non-medical mask or face covering when in public.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands frequently with soap, scrubbing for at least twenty seconds.
  • Sanitize surfaces. Disinfect high-touch surfaces daily. Remove visible soil and dirt from surfaces using soap and water and apply disinfectant. For effective sanitizing, wait the proper contact time as indicated on the product label.
  • If you’re sick, stay at home and isolate yourself.
  • If you have had contact with somebody who tested positive for the virus, consider self-quarantine.

 

Families

If you have older adults living at home, or family members with medical conditions, consider these additional steps to protect them from possible infection:

  • Travel alone if possible. Try not to bring children with you. They are more likely to touch things in public and could carry those germs back to your home.
  • When returning home from work, change your clothes and shoes and wash your hands, especially if you’ve had any interaction with others. Children who go to childcare should take these same

steps.

  • Even inside your home, it is important to maintain social distancing as best you can. If possible, spend time in separate rooms from vulnerable family members. If you cannot, try to stay 6 feet away when in the same room.
  • If prayer is part of your family’s mealtime routine, pray without holding hands.

 

Communities

  • Faith, family and cultural institutions: Empower and encourage individuals by communicating and reminding them of the prevention methods listed above.
  • Employers: Be proactive and specific when asking how you can best provide support, directly ask what you or your organization can do to support employees’ unique needs, make room for people to care for themselves, and make it a point to intervene in the moment by challenging underlying biases and assumptions. Ensure your workplace accommodations align with best practices for preventing the

spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and that employees are following the individual guidelines while at work.

 

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