Latino community makes up more than half of COVID-19 cases in several NC counties

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- While the Latino community makes up just under 10-percent of the state’s population, they make up 28-percent of North Carolina’s COVID-19 cases.

When it comes to hospitalizations, the CDC reported Hispanic population is being hospitalized at four times the rate of any other ethnicity. Narrowing in, Hispanic people between 18 and 49 are hospitalized at seven times more.

Disparities in the Latino communities were at their peak a the beginning of the pandemic. May was the worst. By the end of the month, 46-percent of all cases in North Carolina were in the Latino.

That number slowly decreased, dropping to 25-percent of cases for the last week of June. They made up 11-percent of cases for the last week of October.

The Latino population makes up less than 8-percent of Macon County’s population. Still, they make up close to 60-percent of all COVID-19 cases. The disparities continue in Duplin, Chatham, Durham and Lee Counties where the Latino population makes up at least half cases but less than a quarter of the population.

CountyHispanic % of casesPopulation %County Alert
Macon57%`7.4%Yellow
Duplin52%23%Orange
Chatham50%12%Yellow
Durham50%13%Yellow
Lee 50%20%Orange
Source: NCDHHS

“The Latino community still needs to go to work. One in six Latinos has to go out to work, they can’t work from home,” said NCDHHS Advisor, Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi.

Much of those infections were happening at meat plants and other essential businesses where people can’t be distanced. That has now slowed as the state said they increased safety messaging and provided more PPE to those kinds of business.

Dr. Martinez-Bianchi is asking workers to wear their masks while carpooling with people who they do not live with. She’s asking employers to do their part too.

“Employers, encourage your employees to wear PPE, its the way we’re going to bring these numbers down,” Dr. Martinez-Bianchi said.

Meanwhile, the community makes up only 4 percent of all hospitalizations. That’s because most infections in the Latino community are in younger people.

The state fears holiday reunions could spread the virus from those young to older, vulnerable family members.

“That is where a majority of the risk is, and we’re trying to avoid a resurgence of hospitalizations in the Latino community,” said Dr. Martinez-Bianchi.

That’s the fear for the entire state as thanksgiving nears- regardless of ethnicity.

The state and CDC recommending people not gather for the holiday with others who do not live in their household. They are reminding people about the 10 person indoor gathering limit in place.

Testing is an important tool for mitigating spread. Dr. Martinez-Bianchi is recommended Latino families increase their testing. If you know you have the virus, you know to isolate and that can slow the spread of COVID-19. It is recommended folks get tested three to four days before

Celebrating Thanksgiving safely

Below is the CDC’s risk ranking for a number of Thanksgiving activities

Lower risk activities

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Moderate risk activities

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

Higher risk activities

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs that may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

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