AUSTIN, Texas - Community leaders are calling on Austin City Council to develop a Latino task force to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Hispanic community.
According to Austin Public Health data, Hispanics make up 66 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations. City leaders attribute the impact to Hispanic people working on the front lines as essential workers.
On Monday, the Consulate of Mexico teamed up with the city of Austin to hand out personal protective equipment to construction workers, who employ a large portion of the Hispanic community.
Central Health and CommUnityCare Centers who assist underserved communities have expanded their COVID-19 testing east of Austin. President and CEO Jaeson Fournier said testing sites are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Hispanic community.
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“Based on our learnings through testing we saw there was a larger number of our Latino patients that were testing positive than the rest of the community that we are testing,” said Fournier. “It’s important for folks to get tested in order to self guard their health, their family’s health, their friend’s health.”
CommUnityCare COVID-19 testing is free for those who are uninsured and patients do not need a doctor referral.
Paul Saldana, co-founder of the Hispanic Advocate Business Leaders Association, references a variety of reasons Hispanic people are disproportionately impacted by the life-threatening virus, racial health disparities, access to care, and the make-up of those working on the front lines.
“We continue to be overrepresented in all of the data,” said Saldana. “That should be a red flag and a signal that what we are doing is not working and so we need to change things.”
Saldana is part of the effort to create a task force aimed at educating and providing resources to the Hispanic community.
“The ultimate goal is to provide culturally relevant, bilingual public information, outreach and really emphasize safety precautions that need to be taken into consideration so that we can save lives,” said Saldana.
Saldana has garnered support from council members on creating the task force. He said as soon as they are given the green light they will work with Austin public health officials to develop short and long term goals to help the community.
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