Officials discuss why Durham County’s Hispanic population is disproportionately affected by COVID-19

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Durham County. There are 2,370 confirmed cases and 53 people have died, as of Thursday.

On Thursday, Durham County health officials said so far in June, 73% of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 are Hispanic. The number is especially high when considering only 13% of the county’s population is Latinx.

Eight-year-old Aurea Soto Morales from Durham died from complications related to COVID-19 on June 1. Her family said she was healthy and she died just days after testing positive for the virus.

“Everyone always associates it and says old people are only going to get it and going to die,” said Jennifer Morales, Aurea’s older sister. “But that’s not true. My sister got it.”

Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, CEO of El Centro Hispano, said there are a lot of reasons why the Latinx community has been hit so hard by the COVID-19 virus.

“One of those is a lack of healthcare and a lack of knowledge of how to navigate the system,” Rocha-Goldberg said.

Rocha-Goldberg said many Latinx individuals have essential jobs in construction where they are not able to social distance.

“They are more exposed to the virus, but also what we hear is they don’t have enough PPE, or personal protection equipment,” Rocha-Goldberg said.

She said that there is a need to make COVID-19 testing more accessible to the Hispanic Community and there is also a shortage of bilingual tracers.

Officials with the Durham County Health Department said on Thursday they have worked to better communicate with the Hispanic community about how serious the coronavirus is.

Durham County Health director Rodney Jenkins said they have added the Spanish language to the COVID-19 webpage and they have done radio ads to raise awareness in the Hispanic community.

“There’s more work to be done,” Jenkins said. “COVID-19 is not going anywhere, and we’re not giving up the fight.”

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