HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. — New data from both the Hamilton County Health Department and CEMPA testing show that positive COVID-19 cases among Hispanic people in the county are declining.
Part of the reason for this could be new community partnerships and new efforts to bring COVID-19 information to the Latinx community in a way that is accessible.
Last month, Hispanic people accounted for about 60 percent of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County.
Now, the health department says people in the Latinx community only make up 36-percent of those who have tested positive.
CEMPA has worked to bring COVID-19 information to Latinx communities and to increase access to testing. According to Cempa testing data, by the end of May 1,091 people had been tested of which 117 were positive. 97 of those 117 were members of Latinx community, and that means those positive COVID cases made up 82 percent of positives. By July, that percentage had gone down to 69.7 percent. A total of 2,716 people were tested by CEMPA, of which 261 were positive. In July, 182 of those tested were members of the Latinx community.
While the exact cause of this decrease is hard to pinpoint, Lily Sanchez from La Paz Chattanooga says that community partnerships that have brought COVID-19 informational resources to the Latinx community could be playing a role. In May, the Hamilton County Health Department amped up efforts to directly deliver information to the Latinx community in Spanish. The health department as well as Latinx community stakeholders also came together to create a COVID-19 Latino Task Force that still works to assess conditions for the Hispanic population.
But perhaps most important has been the fact that community groups have tapped into relationships with Hispanic-owned small businesses.
Relationships including those with Latino grocery store, Carniceria Loa, have been pivotal in increasing access to information on the virus.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Loa.
CEMPA will be offering free testing at the Carniceria Loa Number 6 in Brainerd from 3pm to 6pm Thursday, July 30th, and it’s a partnership Loa says he hopes continues. Paulo Hutson with CEMPA says the partnership will continue to play an important role.
“We’re backtracking three months of trying to get the Latinx community caught up to speed on prevention, the importance of testing, and masking,” said Hutson.
And while Hutson says the decrease in cases is a good sign, the number of positive cases in the Hispanic community is still disproportionate.
“I don’t think we’re in the clear but we want to keep up that momentum,” said Hutson.
Read more here!